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Azhar Bilakhia bids adieu to professional cricket

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VADODARA: Baroda’s middle order batsman Azhar Bilakhia has decided to bid adieu to cricket forever. Twenty-four-year-old Bilkhia, son of a rich entrepreneur, wrote a letter to Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) management last week stating that he wants to quit the game and focus on his family business. Bilkhia had joined BCA three years ago as a guest player and managed to get a permanent berth in the Ranji team with his performance.

His sudden decision to quit the game has left many in BCA surprised as he was quite passionate about cricket. Bilakhia had also played in Indian Premier League (IPL) from Team Hyderabad last year when the Adam Gilchrist-led squad became champions. He scored 67 runs from six matches including the finals at strike rate of 82. “We got an email from Bilakhia in which he said that he wants to quit playing cricket and focus on his family business. He wrote that his priority was to pursue education in business management abroad and subsequently quit professional cricket,” said BCA secretary Sachin Dalvi.

“His family wants him to study further. He was a good player, who adjusted to every situation and batted at any position he was given. We will miss his experience,” said a team-mate. Bilakhia was not available for comment.

The burly right-hand batsman had started his first class cricket career with Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) in 2005 where he played for two years. He then shifted to BCA in 2007-08, just around the time when Paras Mhambrey joined Baroda team as a coach. He played 25 first class matches in his five-year career and scored 1,433 runs with highest score of 157.

In 2007-08, Bilakhia put up a decent performance by scoring 348 runs from seven Ranji matches. However, he struck form with the bat on 2008-09 when he became the highest run-getter for Baroda. Bilakhia scored 414 runs from six matches at an average of 41.40 and his highest score was 157 runs.

“Though he didn’t have much of the experience, we had asked him to open on green top in few matches and he readily agreed. He had put up good performance. In the last season, he couldn’t gather much runs but he was learning fast,” said sources. In 2009-10, Bilakhia scored 199 runs from five matches following which he was dropped from a couple of matches.