Pakistan’s Azhar Ali retires from One-Day Internationals

“I just want to pay full attention to Test cricket now,” says the batsman.

Azhar Ali played 53 ODIs for Pakistan.   -  Getty Images

Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has announced his retirement from limited-overs cricket to fully concentrate on Test cricket.

Azhar, 33, felt the time to retire was right. “I have spoken to the chief selector, captain and the chairman of [Pakistan Cricket Board] before announcing my decision. I took the decision after giving it a lot of thought,” he told reporters in Lahore.

“I just want to pay full attention to Test cricket now and I think the young players now coming into the team are performing very well in ODIs,” he added.

‘Time to move on’

A prolific player in Tests, Azhar played the last of his 53 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against New Zealand in January, earlier this year. With his orthodox batting style in the format — he averages 36.90 and possesses a lukewarm strike-rate of 74.45. Reflecting on his ODI sojourn, he said, “I think I could have contributed some more in one-day cricket but with the World Cup due next year, I just felt it was time to move on and give others a chance.”

Azhar clarified that he had been under no pressure to retire from ODIs.

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He said he had only one regret — of not being able to continue as ODI captain for a long period. “I just felt at that time (in 2017) there were some people, who didn’t support me as ODI captain [and] who thought I was not good [enough] for this format. It is never easy to captain the Pakistan side but there are also some good memories for me as captain.”

A PCB official said Azhar took the decision knowing he was not in the scheme of things. “He has got a clear message that he is not in the team management’s plans for next year’s World Cup in England. He has decided it is better if he just focused on playing Test matches,” an official close to Azhar said.

Azhar has been one of Pakistan’s most prolific run-getters in Test cricket, with 5,303 runs in 67 Tests, at an average of 44.19.