Azhar Ali, the Pakistan cricket team’s most senior Test batsmen and ex-skipper, has officially retired from the ODI cricket format.
He announced this during a press conference in Lahore on Thursday.
“It’s not an abrupt decision, I have been considering it since long and have taken coach [Mickey Arthur] and chief selector [Inzimam-ul-Haq] in confidence before the announcement,” Azhar stated.
Azhar will continue playing Test cricket and will centre his focus more towards batting. He assured that the younger players in the team are skilled enough and can carry the team forward.
When it came to questions about captaincy, Azhar responded, “There were certain people dissatisfied with my captaincy, so I stepped down. Currently, Sarfraz is leading the team well, and we all should support him.”
Azhar stated that, with the World Cup nearing, the youngsters should get a proper shot. He said that it would help them gain confidence and perform better in such events.
Fastest To Achieve 1000 Runs
Azhar Ali debuted in 2011in a match against New Zealand. Just 4 years into his career, he became Pakistan’s fastest batsmen to cross 100 runs. It took him 23 innings to reach there and held the title unchallenged for 3 years. Fakhar Zaman broke it in June 2018.
Azhar holds 312 fifties in his 53 ODIs and 1845 runs at an average of nearly 37.
He held an average of above 50 until 2017 when his form began deteriorating due to pressure from his captaincy. His decision to abandon his post as captain resulted in his exclusion from team.
Sarfraz was an obvious pick by the board considering he was already performing well in the role in T20s.
Unlike his reliable batting, Azhar did not do so well as captain. Pakistan fell to a record low 9th place in ODI rankings under his leadership.
The Pakistan cricket team was able to scrape together only 5 wins out of 10 bilateral series under Azhar. Two of these were against Zimbabwe and one each against Sri Lanka, Ireland, and West Indies. Under Azhar’s leadership, Pakistan lost 18 matches and won 12.