Back to the fringes for Azhar Ali

Published: March 15, 2017
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PHOTO: AFP

PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: On March 15, 2017 Pakistan Cricket Board chief selector Inzamamul Haq stood in front of media personnel at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium and hammered the final nail in the coffin of former ODI captain Azhar Ali’s career.

The year 2017 hasn’t been kind to the right-hand batsman, who led the side for almost two years in the 50-over-format. For him, it all started during the ill-fated tour of Australia, where his lack of leadership skills was exploited. Leading the Men in Green in three ODIs, he lost all of them — with Pakistan’s only victory of the series coming when all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez stood as the stand-in skipper.

After the poor run Down Under, everyone — supporters and officials — wanted a head on spike to serve as a scapegoat for the side’s shortcomings, and the captain drowned with the ship intact. He announced his resignation from the post just before the start of the second season of Pakistan Super League, and then failed to feature in a single match during the tournament for Lahore Qalandars – a side which he had captained in the previous edition.

Azhar Ali axed, Kamran and Shahzad in for West Indies ODIs

However, what was really disturbing to witness was Azhar’s resignation from the vice-captaincy of Pakistan’s Test squad. He was widely touted as the next capable, calm, and cool personality to lead the national side after 42-year-old Misbahul Haq retires from international cricket. Now, the former number one ranked side in Tests is without an heir apparent.

He has provided Pakistan with plenty of fond memories, especially dressed in all-white. His triple century against the West Indies in the first day-night Test is one such recollection. Another would be his double-ton against Australia in Melbourne. But the best would be hitting the match-winning six against England at the Oval in London which effectively drew the series 2-2.

Meanwhile, as Inzamam was announcing Azhar’s omission from the limited-overs side to tour the West Indies, the 32-year-old batsman scored a century in the practice match during the team’s training camp. Answering critics might have become a habit for the Lahore-born, since he amassed more than 1,000 runs in 31 innings as captain.

Ahmad Shahzad, Kamran Akmal expected to be in limited-overs squads

Unlike many others, he never blamed his batting position for his performances, coming wherever the team needed him to play. So, even though he has now been pushed to the fringes of Pakistan cricket, it is highly likely that he would return in the future, just like how Misbah did when he was way past him prime, and just like how Kamran Akmal has done recently.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Mohammed - - - Auckland
    Mar 16, 2017 - 4:15AM

    There is no fall of Azhar.
    He is presently regarded very highly as a test batsman. His ICC ranking is proof enough.
    These can be his target moving forward.

    Improve his ranking even further, number one being the target.
    Becoming better then Yunnus Khan (in positive way).
    Improve his bowling and thus becoming a batting allrounder which team needs more.

    You don’t need to be the captain to achieve these.

    The team needs only one captain but 11 good players.Recommend

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