Pakistan opener Azhar Ali has expressed his desire to be a part of the national ODI squad for the next year’s ICC World Cup in England and Wales. Azhar, who has played a key role in Pakistan’s 2017 Champions Trophy triumph, believes it will be an honour to represent his country in the showpiece event.
“That is absolutely my target to find a place in the Pakistan squad for the 2019 World Cup,” Azhar quoted as saying by Daily Times.
He admitted that it will be a hard task to find a place in the current line-up given the performances of other batsmen.
“I understand that I need to work hard to get into the team but that remains my aim and it will be an honour to represent Pakistan at such a big stage if given the opportunity,” Ali added.
Azhar is deemed as the best Pakistan Test batsman after the retirement of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq. The gutsy right-hander has already amassed 5202 runs at an impressive average of 44.84 in 65 Tests and is expected to add a lot more feathers in his cap.
Talking about his future, the 33-year-old Azhar said that his primary target is to play 100 Tests rather than scoring 10,000 runs, while also added that consistent performance is his ultimate objective.
“At the moment, I don’t have any such goals [scoring 10,000 runs] in my mind. What I am looking forward to is to play as long as I can for my country. In doing so, I would like to reach the 100 Tests milestone for Pakistan. I have already played 65 Tests so far so there are another 35 to go before I can I achieve that goal. At that point, I will see where I stand in terms of runs. Obviously to get to any such milestone such as the 100 Test mark, I will have to perform very well and once that happens, anything is possible,” he remarked.
When asked about the dip in his ODI form, Ali cleared that his performances have gone down in all formats, not only 50-over cricket.
“I don’t agree with the view that my form has had a dip in any one form of cricket as the fact of the matter is that my form has suffered in general in the recent past,” he stated.
The Lahore-born batsman also added that injuries have played a major role in his poor form in recent times.
“One of the reasons for this [poor form] in the past was due to a troublesome knee injury. But that has now improved because of which I played in the Test series in Ireland and England. I suppose, it’s now simply down to playing more cricket and batting as much as I can which should help me regain my form as well as confidence,” Azhar Ali explained.
Pakistan’s record in the white-ball cricket has improved a lot lately. In contrast, their Test performances have gone downhill. Azhar though believes patience is required to judge the real potential of the young Pakistan side in the red-ball cricket.
“I believe we need to have more patience as far as the Test team is concerned. You have to realise that two very senior players have left this side and like any other side in the world, we are facing a situation which is a challenges are many for us. Any new player who comes into the side will take his time to settle in and to understand his role in the team,” Azhar concluded.
(With inputs from Daily Times)