| Mohammed Azharuddin with wife Sangeeta at the city airport Friday. Picture by Santosh Ghosh
Calcutta: “This has always been a lucky city and, hopefully, my luck will now change,” is how Mohammed Azharuddin, among the most high-profile of characters in the match-fixing controversy, announced his arrival late Friday.
Azhar, who is vigorously battling the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s life ban, is on his first visit (with wife Sangeeta) to Calcutta after the scandal grew bigger and bigger mid-2000 onwards.
The couple will be returning to Hyderabad Saturday itself.
Looking fitter than he did almost three years ago, during his last India appearance, Azhar remarked he was “hopeful” of getting his name cleared. That, for him, is priority No.1.
“I’m the positive sort but, yes, the next few months are crucial … Am I bitter' No. By nature, I’m not a bitter person. In fact, I’ve no complaints against anybody,” India’s most successful captain (maximum wins in Tests and ODIs) told The Telegraph during a brief interaction at the airport.
Significantly, Azhar, who turned 40 in February, didn’t dismiss the happenings of the past three years as the handiwork of destiny only.
“Give it whatever name you wish,” he shrugged, as autograph-seekers quickly moved to collect what once was a prized signature in international cricket.
Asked whether he had actually adjusted to life without cricket, Azhar grinned: “Indeed… I’ve got fitter and, then, have looked at becoming an entrepreneur…”
Incidentally, Azhar and Sangeeta have launched a successful upmarket gym/fitness centre in Hyderabad and franchises in New Delhi and Mumbai are on the cards.
Talking about the present Team India, Azhar felt the one “huge” difference was in bowling.
“The quality of the current attack, at full-strength, is high… More than anything else, it helped India reach the World Cup final… It’s another matter that, generally, the cricket wasn’t exceptional during the tournament.”
Commenting on Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy, Azhar said: “He’s been doing well… The team has been winning… No disrespect to the earlier sides, but the future does look good…”
That signing-off line, from somebody just one short of 100 Tests, was quite loaded.