Azhar Ali To Retire From Test Cricket After England Series
Azhar Ali has so far scored 7097 runs from 96 Tests at an average of 42.49. He has 19 centuries and 35 fifties to his credit
Veteran Pakistan top-order batsman Azhar Ali will retire from international cricket after the third and final Test against England in Karachi starting Saturday. The 37-year-old former captain was dropped from the second Test -- the second time in six months that he was left out of the team -- signalling the end was near. Azhar will likely replace injured opener Imam-ul-Haq for the Karachi Test and will be hoping to bow out on a high.
"Everything must come to an end, so on a good note I feel -- and my heart and mind understands -- that this is the right time to decide that the Karachi Test will be my last for Pakistan," an emotional Azhar told a press conference.
"It was an honour to not only play for Pakistan, but also captain the country, and I am going with fond memories," added Azhar, who with 7,097 runs from 96 matches is Pakistan's fifth-highest Test scorer.
The writing appears to have been on the wall for Azhar during the home series against England, which Pakistan are losing 2-0.
He scored 27 and 40 in the first Test in Rawalpindi but the manner of his dismissal -- caught off pacer Ollie Robinson to leg slip where a fielder was placed -- was criticised.
He was left out of the second Test, having likewise been dropped from the second Test against Sri Lanka at Galle in July this year.
Azhar denied he had been pushed out.
"It's solely my decision," he said. "No one told me to do this."
Azhar's Test career -- beginning at Lord's in 2010 -- was marked by Pakistan's isolation from international cricket, which deprived him of playing any of his first 75 matches on home grounds.
Pakistan were forced to play their matches at neutral venues in the aftermath of terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009.
When Test cricket returned to Pakistan in December 2019, Azhar hit a century in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Karachi.
"It was massive to play at home and score that hundred," said Azhar, who scored 19 Test centuries.
"I genuinely thought a few years back that I would not be able to play a Test at home."
Azhar also played 53 ODIs for Pakistan, 31 as captain, and led the country in nine Tests.
He described his 302 not out against the West Indies in Dubai six years ago as one of his biggest achievements -- the first and only triple hundred in a day-night Test.
He was also part of Pakistan's triumphant Champions Trophy squad in 2017.
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