'Junior Azhar' dreams of donning blue jersey, owning a Benz

Mohammed Azahruddeen's brother Kamaruddeen points to the youngster's wish list.

Kasaragod: Kerala’s new batting sensation Mohammed Azharuddeen has a pinboard in his room on which he has written down four goals: play in the Indian Premier League; represent India in the 2023 ODI World Cup; own a house and buy a Benz car; and score four centuries in the Ranji Trophy. 

According to his family members, the 26-year-old, who lit up the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 Championship with a 37-ball ton against Mumbai on Wednesday, put together the list on October 12.

Azharuddeen currently lives with his elder brother Unais at Thalangara in Kasaragod district. He has already scored a century in the Ranji Trophy and has bought eight cents of land to construct a house. The blistering knock against the formidable Mumbai is expected to make him a hot property in the IPL auction next month. If he strikes it rich, it could very well give direction to his other dreams. 

Azharuddeen was born on March 22, 1994, as the youngest of the eight children of B K Moidu and Nabeesa. It was Kamaruddeen, the eldest of the siblings, who named his little brother after his favourite cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin. Kamaruddeen, then 22, was working in the Gulf when the boy was born. Moidu and Nabeesa were contemplating the name Ajmal for the newborn, but Kamaruddeen talked them into naming his younger sibling after his idol. Remarkably, the family has also named their new house 'Azhar Manzil'.  

All of Azhar's siblings had great passion for cricket and they used to play at the local level. 

"He phoned me immediately after the match against Mumbai. He was so happy that he could do well and contribute to the team's cause," said Kamaruddeen, who is also an ardent fan of Sachin Tendulkar.

Keeping KL-14 close to his heart

When Azharuddeen completed his whirlwind hundred against Mumbai, there were no customary celebrations. He did not take off his helmet and look up at the sky or kiss the pitch. All he did was pointing his bat at the number inscribed on the back of his jersey. 

What is the story behind the No. 14 on his jersey? According to his relatives, it comes from KL-14, the vehicle registration code of Kasaragod, the fourteenth district of Kerala. Azhar has been sporting that number ever since he started playing for Kerala. He always takes pride and pleasure in mentioning Kasaragod because he loves his birth place a lot, they said. 

Scaling new heights 

Azharuddeen took cricket seriously at the age of nine and has never turned back. He started his career with the TASS Cricket Club in Thalankara and played in the Kasaragod district junior league at the age of 13. 

In 2007, he was selected to a training programme conducted by the Kerala Cricket Association at Kottayam. A consistent performer for Kerala across age groups, he has scored three centuries while playing for the state U-19 and U-23 teams. 

He broke into Kerala's Ranji Trophy team in 2015. A stylish, smooth-stroking batsman, Azharuddeen's best performances so far in the premier domestic competition have been the 112 against Punjab in the 2018-19 season and the 99 against Tripura in the 2006-17 season. 

Apart from being an elegant batsman, Azharuddeen is a quality glovesman. He has won the KCA's annual award for the best wicketkeeper thrice.

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