Azhar Mahmood, who was born on 28 February 1975, is one more name in the list of cricketers from Pakistan who were immensely talented but frittered away over a period of time. He was a bowler who could swing the ball at a healthy
Azhar Mahmood Sagar, who was born on 28 February 1975, is one more name in the list of cricketers from Pakistan who were immensely talented but frittered away over a period of time. He was a bowler who could swing the ball at a healthy pace and a useful middle order batsman with a penchant for attack. Originally his father objected to his interest in cricket, but later started to appreciate it seeing his skills and talent. As a teenager, Azhar was mentored by Irfan Bhatti who played a One Day International for Pakistan in the early 90’s.
He never quite managed to seal a regular spot in the Pakistan team and was a member on and off from 1996.
His test career began in fine fashion as well as he scored a century on debut against South Africa. He added two more tons within a year against the same opposition but it was all downhill afterwards as he finished with more hundreds than fifties in his Test career.
He joined the Pakistan team primarily as a medium pacer but he has surprised many by his batting powers. His hard hitting but orthodox batting skills have also been extremely useful in the one-day game. Unlike most Pakistani pacers who are swing bowlers, he is a useful English-style seam bowler, who can chip in with wickets in time of need.
His ODI tenure was longer and more productive in comparison. He was a regular member of the side that reached the finals in 1999. He was also a part of the squads for the 2003 and 2007 World Cup but did not have much success. The highlights of his career were the back-to-back five wicket hauls he managed in Sharjah in 1999.
He was also among the many Pakistani players who joined the ICL but quit it soon after and went to England to play county cricket. Since the introduction of T20, Mahmood has embraced that format of the game. He has played in almost every League in the world. The teams he has represented include: Auckland Aces, Kings XI Punjab, Barbados Trident, Dhaka Gladiators, Surrey, Barisal Burners to name a few. He subsequently also joined Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League who eventually won the maiden title.
Azhar Mahmood replaced Mushtaq Ahmed as the bowling coach of Pakistan for the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20, although he has never been involved in a major coaching role in the past. He joined the national squad in Dhaka after Mushtaq was rested. While this will be his maiden stint as an international coach, Azhar Mahmood has coached private clubs in the UAE and England.
Azhar Mahmood has a wealth of experience having played 225 Twenty20s for teams across several countries and has been involved with domestic cricket since his last international game in 2007. He was recently involved with Virgo Super Kings at the Masters Champions League where he had a fair amount of success, picking up five wickets and scored 130 runs in six games.