Mohammed Azharuddin, one of India's most successful captains, fell out of grace when a match-fixing scandal in 1999 scandalised world cricket and abruptly ended his career.
Azharuddin was banned for life and he became a recluse. Ten years later, Azharuddin has got a second chance: in politics. He is returning to public life and joined the Congress in New Delhi on Thursday. Why did he decide to join politics and the Congress? CNN-IBN asked him.
â€œFor the last two years I was not decided what to do. The Congress party has been for the last so many years. They have made so many sacrifices. They fought for Indiaâ€™s freedom. I always thought I had the ability to help people and I chose this medium. I am very happy about it,â€ he said.
Azharuddin denied that he had kept the option of joining the Telangana Rashtra Samiti too. â€œThere have been lot of rumours floating and I didnâ€™t say anything about it.â€
Cricketers havenâ€™t had a good track record in politics. Former captain M A K Pataudi contested an election, and lost his deposit. Does that worry Azharuddin, who is speculated to get a Congress ticket in Hyderabad?
â€œIt is not in my control. I am not the captain anymore. Whatever the party decides and whatever they feel best I will be very happy to do that.â€
Does the heat and grime of politics bother him? â€œI never look back; I always look ahead. I am a positive person. There are times when people are going to be nastyâ€”I am ready for it. I canâ€™t expect everybody to say good things about me, so I have to sometimes keep my eyes and ears closed.â€
Political opponents will rake up the match-fixing scandal. Is he ready to face the slurs again? â€œI am not interested in all those things. My job is to strive hard and make sure that the party succeeds in the elections.â€
Only talent and competence matter in sports, but politics is not a leveller. Azharuddinâ€™s religion will be an issue and people may say the Congress is using him for Muslim votes. Is it?
â€œI am always positive, never negative. You are not going to get any negative reply to that question. I always look ahead; I am prepared for any eventuality.â€