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Leicestershire batsman Hassan Azad wins PCA Player of the Month

Leicestershire opener beats Marnus Labuschagne, Lewis Gregory and Jeetan Patel to June's PCA award

100 - Hassan Azad Acknowledges the crowd on reaching 100 during the Specsavers County Champ Div 2 match between Leicestershire County Cricket Club and Gloucestershire County Cricket Club at the Fischer County Ground, Grace Road, Leicester, United Kingdom on 17 June 2019.
Image: Hassan Azad won 50 per cent of the public vote to be named PCA Player of the Month for June

Leicestershire opening batsman Hassan Azad has admitted the start to his professional career has "still not sunk in" after winning the PCA Player of the Month for June.

The 25-year-old received per cent of the supporters vote, beating off competition from Somerset's Lewis Gregory (18 per cent), Glamorgan's Marnus Labuschagne (18 per cent) and Warwickshire's Jeetan Patel (14 per cent).

The former Loughborough student only signed his first professional contract ahead of the 2019 season and has started his career with a flourish at the top of the Leicestershire order.

The shortlist was selected via the PCA Most Valuable Player Rankings for the month of June and thanks to his County Championship form, Azad was top of the pile. Thankfully for the Karachi-born run-maker, fans who voted through the PCA and Sky Sports online platforms agreed.

Leicestershire's Hassan Azad
Image: Azad scored two centuries and a 92 in June

"I am absolutely ecstatic. I was very pleased even to be nominated," said Azad. "I am absolutely loving it, playing professional cricket has been a dream for as long as I can remember.

"To be living it is unreal and it still has not sunk in that this is what my life is now. Going to the ground every day, training and playing in games, I am really grateful."

In June, Azad became the first Leicestershire player since 2013 to score two centuries in the same match, some feat considering it was just his seventh Championship outing for the Foxes. His performance against Gloucestershire saw him win the MVP of the match with 39.86 points.

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His efforts in that game contributed to his 389 runs in the month at an average of 97.25, which made him statistically the standout performer. With 105.9 MVP points in the Championship table, he sits in the top 40 players in the country; something he didn't believe possible 12 months ago.

"It seemed quite far away this time last year but I am really grateful things have come together for me, I am over the moon and I can't believe how well this year has gone so far and long may it continue.

Paul Horton in action for Leicestershire in the County Championship
Image: Azad has been opening the batting for Leicestershire with Paul Horton (pictured)

"When you play games close together, cricket is a game when you start to get a few runs, things do start to go your way and I was really pleased I capitalised on that to help the team to get a few decent results.

"We would have liked to win a few more games but it's nice to contribute to the team. It was really nice to score two hundreds in the same game. You can only take it one ball at a time and it was a good pitch.

"We did well to get a good score in the first innings and then in the second innings it was petering out into a draw but it was still nice to spend some time at the crease and take advantage of the situation.

"Sometimes as an opening batsman you do get a good nut early so it is nice to get that milestone."

Leicestershire are among a cluster of teams in Division Two aiming for a promotion spot and if they are to challenge, Azad will be a key man at the Fischer County Ground.

"It would be ideal for us to get one of those promotion spots to get into Division One next year but that's quite far away for us at the minute so we are taking it one game at a time.

"We want to put in a complete performance with bat and ball we have done well in one discipline or the other so it would be nice to put a complete performance together to get us over the line to get towards a promotion spot."

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