Former Pakistan captain Azhar Ali to quit test cricket – The Associated Press – en Español

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Former Pakistan captain Azhar Ali says he will quit test cricket after the third and final test against England which begins Saturday.
“It has been a great honor and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level,” the 37-year-old Azhar said Friday. “Deciding on when to call it a day is always tough, but, after contemplating deeply, I realized that this is the right time for me to retire from test cricket.”
Azhar, who made his test debut at Lord’s against Australia in 2010, played 96 test matches and scored 7,097 runs at an average of 42.49, including 19 centuries.
He finishes his career as Pakistan’s fifth-leading test run-getter behind Younis Khan (10,099 runs), Javed Miandad (8,832), Inzamam-ul-Haq (8,829) and Mohammad Yousuf (7,530).
“There are many people who I am grateful to in this strenuous, yet beautiful journey,” Azhar said as his voice broke. “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.”
Pakistan dropped Azhar from the second test against England last week because of his lack of form, but the middle-order batter said it had nothing to do with his decision to call it a day.
“The team management decides what is good for the team, but I had already made up my mind that it will be my last season in international cricket,” he said.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam congratulated Azhar on his illustrious career and said the middle-order batter had been an inspiration to many youngsters.
“When we came, he was one of the senior players so we have learned a lot of things from him and gave us confidence,” Babar said. “He backed all the players and always brought positive vibes in the dressing room … I wish him good luck for the future.”
Azhar became one of four Pakistan triple century-makers in test cricket when he scored an unbeaten 302 during a pink ball day-night test match against the West Indies at Dubai in 2016. Hanif Mohammad, Inzamam and Younis are the other three Pakistan batters who have made triple centuries in test cricket.
“Although that innings was not my best one, but still scoring a triple century in a test match is something which I will cherish forever,” Azhar said.
Azhar recounted several of teammates like Shahid Afridi, who was his first test captain in 2010 when Pakistan played a test series against Australia at a neutral venue. He also led Pakistan in nine test matches in between 2016-2020.
“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,” he said. “From being a kid who started as a leg-spinner to becoming a mainstay in the test batting lineup, I had the loveliest moments of my life that I will cherish forever.”
Azhar played 75 of his test matches at neutral venues — mostly in the United Arab Emirates — after foreign countries refused to tour Pakistan due to security concerns.
“It was massive to play at home,” he said. “I genuinely thought a few years back that I would not be able to play a test at home . . . but credit goes to the Pakistan Cricket Board and the government to make that happen and convince other teams that it’s safe to play in Pakistan.”
England captain Ben Stokes said it was great that Azhar will be quitting test cricket in front of his home fans.
“I know he played a lot of cricket in the UAE so for him to be able to go out in his home country, in his last test, will be a great thing for him,” Stokes said. “He’s been a great servant for Pakistan cricket so I wish him all the best in retirement.”
Azhar scored a hundred in Karachi when Sri Lanka resumed test cricket in Pakistan in 2019 and the right-handed batter said that innings of 118 was one of his best in test matches.
Azhar represented Pakistan in 53 ODIs and scored 1,845 runs before quitting limited-overs cricket in 2018 — a year after Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in England.
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