KARACHI: Despite scoring a meagre 54 runs in four matches for Lahore Eagles at the Faysal Bank T20 Cup, Pakistan Test batsman Azhar Ali wants a shot at limited-overs cricket for the national side.
Azhar made his international debut in the first Test against Australia at Lord’s last year and has played a solitary One-Day International (ODI) for Pakistan – against Ireland in May when he scored 39 off 64. His list-A average of almost 47 sits well above his first-class average that is 38.3 after 69 matches.
Citing the example of Sachin Tendulkar and disagreeing with critics that do not want the purity of his game to be diluted by Twenty20 cricket, Azhar remains confident of success if given a chance.
“I have five list-A hundreds and have been the season’s best batsman once in my career,” Azhar told The Express Tribune. “My average, my centuries and my strike-rate speak for themselves. ODIs are similar to Test cricket since you need to spend time in the middle to achieve anything. With the field spread out, it actually makes run-scoring easier than four-day or Test cricket.”
Azhar looked out of place in the T20 Cup at times, despite hitting two sixes in four innings, but argued that the shortest format of the game can be mastered with experience and a high scoring-rate achieved through effective stroke-play.
“Take Tendulkar and his IPL innings for example, his game hasn’t been affected due to his involvement in Twenty20 cricket. Obviously you need innovation, improvement and acceleration but the scoring-rate can be maintained by normal strokes with a boundary-an-over strategy.”
In 17 domestic Twenty20 innings, Azhar has scored 258 with a highest of 40. His performance in Test cricket and his patience in the middle have forced fans and officials to label him as an individual more suited to Tests than limited-overs cricket.
Despite nine half-centuries in 13 Tests and an average of over 38, Azhar is not content wearing just the whites for Pakistan.
“The more I play, the more I can improve in the formats. I want to play, I want to improve and I want to get into it. It will not affect my
performance in Test cricket.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.
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