Azhar Ali has become the mainstay of the Pakistan’s batting lineup in Test cricket after experienced duo of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan decided to call it a day in the series played in the Caribbean earlier this year. Azhar rose to the occasion with the bat for Pakistan on many occasions during his cricketing career. He reached important milestone during the first game against Sri Lanka played at Abu Dhabi by becoming the eight batsman for Pakistan to complete 5,000 runs in Test cricket.
Mohammad Yousuf and Javed Miandad were the batsmen who completed the landmark of 5,000 runs in least number of innings. Azhar was just 32 runs away from the milestone coming into the first Test against Sri Lanka. He had slice of luck in his innings but played well to notch up a crucial half century.
He has joined the illustrious league of batsmen who have played for Pakistan such as Majid Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Saleem Malik and Mohammad Yousuf. Azhar played a composed knock and took his time at the crease against some good bowling from Sri Lanka. He struck his first boundary after 126 balls when he smashed a half-volley offered by pacer Suranga Lakmal. He also brought up his 26th half century in the game to see Pakistan cut down Sri Lanka’s lead to less than 150 runs.
There were big question marks as to how Pakistan will do as a side in Test cricket after retirements of Younis and Misbah. It is always observed that sides do tend to suffer in form when big players quit the game.
Sri Lanka has struggled since the retirement of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene from the five-day format.Azhar Ali made his debut against England in 2010 and has seen Pakistan go through its worst due to infamous spot-fixing scandal surrounding Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir. The above mentioned players pleaded guilty and were banned from the game. The experience of playing in different conditions will hold Azhar in good position for the future.
Head Coach Mickey Arthur stated that Azhar is now the premier batsman in the lineup for Pakistan in Test cricket. He said that the batsman has been consistent run-getter for the side for the last three or four years.
Azhar holds impressive in Test cricket since July 2016 as he has scored over 1500 runs at a staggering average of 57. Some of his notable performances include a triple ton against West Indies in UAE and majestic double ton against Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
He achieved a unique milestone by becoming only the fourth batsmen from Pakistan to register a triple century in Test cricket alongside Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Hanif Mohammad.