• Azhar Ali to retire from international cricket

    Veteran Pakistan opening batsman Azhar Ali will retire from international cricket after the third and final Test against England in Karachi starting on Saturday.

    The 37-year-old was dropped for the second Test – the second time in six months that he was left out of the team – signalling the end was near.

    “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 at an average of 42.49 is Pakistan’s fifth-highest Test scorer.

    Azhar’s 96-match 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.”

    © Agence France-Presse

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    Simon Borchardt