The sole survivor of Pakistan’s famed middle-order in Misbah Ul-Haq’s captaincy, Azhar Ali has announced he will retire at the end of the ongoing test series with England.
Tourists England, who are touring the Pakistan for the first time in 22 years, have already secured the series and are leading 2-0. The Three Lions have outplayed their hosts, and for an expectant fanbase like Pakistan’s, change will be expected.
Azhar Ali is often seen as the odd one out in the Pakistani batting line-up, bearing the brunt of a lot of fan criticism, which is harsh we feel. This is the same Azhar Ali who has hit a double-ton in England and a triple-ton against West Indies.
When the former captain goes big, he goes very big! Critics will point out his Shane Watson impression and how he can be a prime LBW candidate, but he is a part of a dying breed.
Ben Stokes’ England side are determined to introduce a modern look to test match cricket, a longer version of T20 cricket, but players like Kraigg Brathwaite and Ali, who put a price on the wicket are test players who should be appreciated.
They encapsulate the beauty of test cricket, which I feel is to be patient, graft and have perseverance. Azhar, 37, has played 96 Tests, scoring 7,097 runs – only four Pakistan batters have ever scored more.
Seen as a weak link now, he will be missed when he’s gone. Kamran Ghulam and Usman Salahuddin are the early front runners to replace Azhar Ali. Azhar’s departure could also see Fawad Alam earn a place back in the side.
Alam is one of the very few players, who has a temperament anything near that of the 37-year-old Ali. Whoever fills the void Azhar Ali will leave, he has big shoes to fill.
As we have seen with England, the role of number three batsman isn’t an easy role to fill. Good look fellas, you will need it in abundance.
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