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Saturday, July 20, 2024

Pak’s Azhar Ali decides to hang his boots


One of Pakistan’s most successful Test batsmen and former captain, Azhar Ali, will retire from the longest format after the third and final Test of the ongoing ICC World Test Championship series against England.

Azhar has represented Pakistan in 96 Tests so far, scoring 7097 runs at an impressive average of 42.49. He made his debut in the longest format in 2010 against Australia at Lord’s.

Throughout his 12-year-long illustrious Test career, he struck 19 centuries and 35 fifties. In his swansong Test against England in Karachi, he would get another opportunity to add more to these numbers and finish his Test career on a high. He also captained the side on nine occasions between 2016 and 2020.

“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level,” Azhar said in a statement on Friday, 16 December. “Deciding on when to call it a day is always tough, but, after contemplating deeply, I realised that this is the right time for me to retire from Test cricket.

“There are many people who I am grateful to in this strenuous, yet beautiful journey. I want to make a special mention of my family without whose sacrifices; I would not have been where I am today. My parents, wife, siblings, and children have been my strength throughout,” he added.

Among his many achievements, Azhar remains the only Pakistan batsman to have scored a triple-century in a pink-ball Test. He achieved this feat against West Indies in Dubai in 2016. He notched up an unbeaten 302 – his highest individual score in Test cricket.

“I have been blessed to share dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom I share a strong bond,” Azhar reflected. “I feel much richer by calling these people my friends. I am also blessed to have played under some wonderful coaches to whom I will always remain grateful.

“I retire from international cricket as a fulfilled cricketer who ticked most of the goals he had set for himself. Not many cricketers go on to lead their countries, and that I was able to captain Pakistan is a matter of great pride for me. From being a kid who started as a leg-spinner to becoming a mainstay in the Test batting line-up, I had the loveliest moments of my life that I will cherish forever.”

Azhar bows out from Test cricket as one of Pakistan’s top run-getters – their fifth leading run-scorer in the format.

Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman, Ramiz Raja, congratulated the batter: “Azhar Ali has been one of the most committed and loyal servants of Pakistan cricket. His grit and determination have been an inspiration for many young cricketers and he is a role model for up and coming cricketers.

“While it is sad that Pakistan will not have a player of his experience in the dressing room to draw upon, it only reflects the circle of life. I hope to see Azhar continuing to play a role in the development of Pakistan cricket and sharing his vast knowledge and experience with budding cricketers.”

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