The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ramiz Raja has lauded Azhar Ali after the latter announced his retirement from Test cricket on Friday.
Raja also presented a special souvenir to Ali during the first day of the third Test between Pakistan and England in Karachi on Saturday.
“Azhar Ali has been a true ambassador for cricket. Congratulations to him and his family. To have such a selfless cricketer in the dressing room has meant a great deal to our cricket system and team. Very rarely do you see such cricketers retiring on a high,” said Raja.
“I would have liked him to play 100 Test matches but just to let you know Azhar, I also ended up with 198 ODIs. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a number.
“What you have achieved is truly amazing. You lifted us all and stood up in crunch situations. You are a great example. I want people to play cricket like you, with a smile on their face and enjoying the game.”
Ali was one of Pakistan's most successful batters, with 7,097 runs in 96 matches at an average of 42.49.
The right-hander is Pakistan’s fifth leading Test run-getter behind Younis Khan (10,099), Javed Miandad (8,832), Inzamam-ul-Haq (8,829) and Mohammad Yousuf (7,530).
In 2010, Ali, as a 25-year-old, made his Test debut in England against Australia at Lord’s and scored his maiden Test half-century in only his second match.
He notched up 35 half-centuries and went past the 100-run mark on 19 instances over the course of his career.
The 37-year-old also led Pakistan in nine Tests in two separate tenures from 2016 till 2020.
Ali, 37, is the only Pakistan batter to score a triple-century in a pink-ball Test — a feat that he achieved against the West Indies at Dubai in 2016. That unbeaten 302 remains his highest score in Test cricket.
Ali retired from One-Day Internationals in 2018 — a year after helping Pakistan win the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. In that tournament, Ali had scores of 50 (v India), 9 (v South Africa), 34 (v Sri Lanka), 76 (v England in semi-final) and 59 (v India in final).
"The innings of scoring 141 against England in Southampton Test 2020 will remain the most special for me in my whole career,” said Ali.
"It is not an easy task to leave the dressing room of Pakistan, which I have been sharing since last twelve years,” he added.