Azhar says good bye to Test cricket, still available for Karachi encounter

Star Pakistani batsman Azhar on Friday announced that he would retire from Test cricket after the third and final match of the ongoing series against England.

The decision comes after he was dropped for the second Test in Multan against England. In the high scoring Rawalpindi Test, he scored 27 and 40 in the two innings. Moreover, his tame dismissal in the final session on day five triggered a collapse, resulting in England’s victory.

Although Azhar hasn’t made any decision about the ODIs (One Day Internationals), he is already been ignored by selectors for quite some time now.

He has represented Pakistan in 96 Tests so far, scoring 7097 runs at an average of 42.49 with 19 100s and 30 50s. He made his debut in the longest format in 2010 against Australia at Lord’s.

During his career, Azhar became Pakistan’s fifth leading Test run-scorer after Younis Khan (10,099), Javed Miandad (8,832), Inzamam-ul-Haq (8,829) and Mohammad Yousuf (7,530).

“My heart and my mind felt that this is the right time and I would like to call it a day after this game [third Test],” said Azhar, who also captained Pakistan in nine Tests in two separate tenures from 2016 till 2020, at a press conference.

“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level,” he said. “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.”

Azhar also mentioned that he had been blessed to share a dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom he shared 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.”

Whether or not he plays will only be known on Saturday morning at the National Stadium as Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam said no decision had so far been made on the subject.

“We’ll decide tonight, so let’s see,” he said. “But I’d like to congratulate him on his career, and how much he inspired us. He gave Pakistan some great performances. When I came in he was a senior player and gave us a lot of confidence. He backed the players and was someone who brought positive vibes to the dressing room.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) congratulated Azhar on “a wonderful career”.

In a press release, the PCB noted that Azhar was 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.”

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