February 19, 1985, Lahore, Punjab
Right hand Bat
Top order Batter
Armed with a compact technique and large reserves of patience, opening batter Azhar Ali established himself as one of Pakistan's finest batters of his era.
He scored his first Test fifty in his second Test, in difficult batting conditions at Headingley in 2010, in a fourth-innings chase of 180 against Australia, but he would make ten more fifties before his first Test hundred, in another low-scoring match, against England in the UAE in 2012. He had his most prolific year in 2016, when he racked up over a thousand runs, including an unbeaten triple-century against West Indies in the UAE, and a 205 not out that came in an innings defeat to Australia where no other Pakistan batter went past 65.
Azhar gave an indication of his talent and temperament when, on an A tour to Australia in 2009, he twice made five-hour 70s against an attack that included Doug Bollinger, Clint McKay and Jason Krejza. That series propelled him into senior-team focus, and a solid if not spectacular 2009-10 season brought about a richly deserved Test debut in the middle order at Lord's against Australia.
Azhar took over from Misbah-ul-Haq as ODI captain after the 2015 World Cup, and ran into trouble. Pakistan slipped to a record-low No. 9 in ODIs under Azhar before rising a place, just about qualifying for the 2017 Champions Trophy. In all, they won 12 and lost 18 ODIs under him, before he quit the captaincy in February 2017 in the wake of a 4-1 loss to Australia. Ironically, Pakistan would go on to win the Champions Trophy that year, helped by fifties from Azhar in the semi-final and final.
In 2019, Azhar was appointed Test captain after Sarfaraz Ahmed was sacked, and Pakistan won two home series, against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, under him, but a slump in personal form and growing criticism of his leadership meant he spent less than 12 months at the helm before the role was handed to his vice-captain, Babar Azam.
Batting & Fielding