This cricketer turned a successful politician later

This cricketer turned a successful politician later

From Amar Singh to K S Bharat – 5

Kirtivardhan Azad, 64 or simply Kirti Azad as he was called in later years was the 150th Test player for Team India. Carrying a reputation of being an aggressive batsman and an effective offspinner, Kirti made his debut at an overseas location – Basin Reserve, Wellington, New Zealand – on February 21, 1981. The three-test series went in favour of the hosts, who won 1-0, while two matches ended in a draw. At the beginning of the 1980s, when Azad made his entry into the Indian team, it was close to completing half a century of playing test cricket and had played 187 matches by then. The ODI format had already begun making its impact on the game and the country was waking up to serious competition from its arch rival Pakistan on every count. The longest format of the game still retained its pivotal slot then, however.

In a career close to three years in Test cricket, Azad played seven test matches with his last one being against the West Indies. The country played 30 matches in that 1981-83 phase, which witnessed the phenomenal ODI victory at the 1983 World Cup. 17 of these Tests were played in foreign shores against all the leading Test playing nations while 13 were on Indian soil. The track record was: one win, nine losses and 20 drawn. Rather notably, Kirti Azad was featured in that lone victory which India secured against England during the 6-match 1981-82 series, with the remaining five ending in draws. At Wankhede Stadium in the then Bombay, in a low scoring match India defeated England by 138 runs. Kirti took one wicket, that of the dogmatic batsman Geoff Boycott, who top scored with 60 in the first innings. He scored 14 and 17 batting in both the innings as a middle-order batsman.

Five years after he quit playing the game in all formats, in 1999, his political career began. His family being a political one, in which his father, Bhagwat Jha Azad, was the Chief Minister of Bihar after a long stint as Union Minister at the Centre may have made him naturally adapt to the game of power politics. He began as a MLA and later went on to represent his party, BJP as an MP twice. After being with the saffron party for 20 years, he switched sides moving to Congress and later the Trinamool Congress, where he is at present. His fracas with the late ArunJaitley, a prominent politician from Delhi and part of its inner circles is well-documented as also his character brought live onscreen in the Kabir Khan flick '1983'.

At the same time, focusing back on the game, it is fascinating to note how the progress has been for India in terms of number of players introduced and the number of test matches played between the first player after Independence and the 150th one.

If HemuAdhikari was the 36th player to be adorning the Indian cap when he played the first Test match after Independence (Nov 28,1947 at Brisbane, Australia), the country had played 176 matches in a span of 33-odd years and had capped 114 new players in the bargain, as Azad was included in the playing eleven in 1981. Statistically analyzing, the period 1932-1949 saw the country play only 19 matches as its team capped its 50th player (Nirode Chowdhury). By the time the 100th player (Baloo Gupte) was inducted in 1961, it had played 71 matches both within India and abroad, adding 52 matches in a span of 11-odd years. The game took a momentous leap in the next two decades as it added 116 matches more to the country's tally of 187 as Kirti Azad entered the ground in 1981.

(Next: NayanMongia, India's 200th Test player)

Show Full Article
Print Article
Next Story
More Stories