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Lead by example: Azhar Ali needs to overturn terrible form overseas

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Having batted his way patiently for 85 balls, Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali had weathered the early storm and gotten his eye in, in the first inning of the rain-hit second Test against England at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

But right when it looked like the veteran batsman could finally end his slump, he edged one off a James Anderson delivery low to Rory Burns who was fielding at second slip, walking back after adding just 20 to his team’s score. Thus continued Ali’s dismal run outside Asia with the bat, raising further questions about his ability to help the Pakistani side.

In a downward spiral

Ali’s captaincy has been a topic of debate after Pakistan wasted their chance to beat England in the first Test at Old Trafford, as the hosts rallied from 117/5 to chase down 277 and win by three wickets. 

However, his form with the bat has been even more concerning.

Since the start of 2018, Ali has batted in 19 innings outside the sub-continent and scored just one 50, which came in May 2018 against England at Lord’s in Pakistan’s nine-wicket victory over the hosts.

Outside of that half-century, the 35-year-old has scored 182 in 18 innings at a dismal average of 10.11. Of those 18 times, Ali has reached double figures only six times.

The Pakistan captain also holds the record for most single-digit scores by an Asian top-order batsman outside the subcontinent. Ali has 25 single-digit scores in 74 innings outside Asia, meaning he records a single-digit score once every three innings.

At 35, Ali isn’t a spring chicken either. His form has been dwindling for quite some time and it is only getting worse with every passing inning that he bats for Pakistan.

Both, Abid Ali and Babar Azam have shown grit during this ongoing Test series against England, however, Azhar has been a liability for his side with the bat and his captaincy doesn’t inspire much confidence either.

Ali needs to show up for his side and soon, because time may be running out for the 35-year-old to salvage his international career.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Dan Mullan

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