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Sachin should play natural game: Azhar

May 12, 2004 16:03 IST

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin says Sachin Tendulkar should start playing his natural game rather than resort to defensive tactics as the crowd always expects entertainment from the maestro.

"Not that he is not getting runs like earlier, but he is getting more defensive now. I would like to see him play his natural, entertaining game," he told reporters in Kozhikode on Wednesday.

On Rahul Dravid's controversial decision to declare the Indian innings in the Multan Test against Pakistan when Tendulkar was about to reach his double hundred, Azhar said he felt the little master should have been allowed to achieve the mark. "However, it was a team decision," he added.

Asked if the current Indian team is the best India has ever produced, Azharuddin, in the city to open a fashion showroom at Kottakkal in Malappuram district, said he still rates the 1985 team led by Sunil Gavaskar, which won the World Series beating Pakistan in the final, as the best.

"The 1985 team had more experienced players like Kapil Dev and Roger Binny and we bowled out almost every opponent during the series," he said, adding that the current team also has a lot of talented players and is a good combination.

Although Azhar has been excluded from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's list of cricketers entitled for pension, he welcomed the decision, saying it is a "good beginning".

On his legal battle against the match-fixing charges against him, he said he expects a final verdict in the case by June.

Lauding Sourav Ganguly's captaincy, Azharuddin, whose record for maximum Test victories was overtaken by the Indian captain recently, Azhar said, "I need not say much about it as the record speaks for itself."

Noting that the opener's slot is a tough one in Test cricket, he said he favours Yuvraj Singh opening the Indian innings as the left-hander was picked only in place of another opener, Sadgoppan Ramesh.     

On India's pace bowling, he said the country produced some good bowlers in recent times and rated young Ashish Nehra as the best among them.

His plans to start a full-fledged sports academy, with primary concentration on cricket in Hyderabad, is yet to take off for want of funds, he said, adding that the Andhra Pradesh government had earlier assured him assistance.

Azhar said "sports will develop in Kerala if there is an effective system and necessary infrastructure to promote the game".

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