Azhar Ali announces Test retirement

Pakistan top-order batter Azhar Ali has announced his retirement from Test cricket, with the third Test against England in Karachi set to be his last.
Azhar Ali?width=963&height=541&resizemode=4
 Only Younis Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam Ul Haq and Mohammad Yousuf have scored more Test runs for Pakistan than Azhar Ali.

Pakistan batter Azhar Ali will retire from Test cricket after the third match of the ongoing home series against England to be played in Karachi from Saturday, December 17.

It will be his 97th Test, the sixth most among Pakistan cricketers, and has aggregated 7097 runs in 96 games at an average of 42.49, with 19 hundreds till date. Only four others -  Younis Khan, Javed Miandad, Inzamam Ul Haq and Mohammad Yousuf - have scored more Test runs for Pakistan.

Having debuted against Australia at Lord’s in 2010, Azhar scored a fifty in just his second outing, and would soon establish himself as a prolific run-scorer in the format. He is the only Pakistan batter to have hit a triple-hundred in a pink-ball Test, the career-best 302 coming against the West Indies at Dubai in 2016.

"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," Azhar said.

“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.

“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.”

PCB chairman Ramiz Raja acknowledged Azhar’s contribution in the format: “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.”