Azhar Ali announced retirement from Test cricket

KARACHI: Pakistan top-order batter and former Test captain Azhar Ali has announced his retirement from red-ball cricket.

Azhar Ali, Pakistan’s one of the most successful batters, will hang his boots following the third Test against England, which begins on Saturday in Karachi.

Azhar captained Pakistan in nine Tests in two separate tenures from 2016 till 2020. Azhar Ali announced retirement during the test series with England.

“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level. 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,” the 37-year-old batter said while addressing a news conference at National Bank Cricket Arena.

Azhar Ali got emotional during announcing the retirement.

“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.

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“I have been blessed to share dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom I share a strong bond. 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,” he added.

In a statement, PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja: “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.

“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,” PCB chief said.

Azhar made his Test debut at the age of 25 in England against Australia at Lord’s cricket stadium and scored his maiden Test half-century in only his second match. He scored 34 half-centuries and went past the 100-run mark on 19 instances.

With 7,097 runs in 96 matches at an average of 42.49, Azhar is Pakistan’s fifth leading Test run-getter behind Younis Khan (10,099), Javed Miandad (8,832), Inzamam-ul-Haq (8,829) and Mohammad Yousuf (7,530).

Azhar Ali’s Test Career

Azhar, 37, is the only Pakistan batter to score a triple-century in a pink-ball Test – a feat that he achieved against the West Indies at Dubai in 2016. That unbeaten 302 remains his highest score in Test cricket.

Over the course of his 12-year career, Azhar also made 2 double-centuries – 226 against Bangladesh in Dhaka (May 2015) and 205 not out against Australia in Melbourne (December 2016) – and has, at least, one century in Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates, the West Indies and Zimbabwe..

It is pertinent to mention here that the top order batter retired from One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in 2018 – a year after helping Pakistan win the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.