Azhar Ali is back in to the ODI squad and this is a plus point for Pakistan as he has experience of ODI series as a skipper against England in 2016 in England, though that wasn’t a fruitful series for him as a skipper, but having no Sharjeel Khan in the squad; he is a perfect replacement as an opener. Looking at his stats he has a healthy average of 38.21 in ODI’s. In 45 matches he has scored 1605 runs while facing 2140 balls at the strike rate of 75.00 including 9 fifties & 3 centuries.
Champions Trophy is going to start on 1st June 2017 in England, Azhar Ali has played 5 ODIs in England and he has scored 208 runs in 268 balls at the strike rate of 77.61 with an average of 41.60.
Such a player who has an average of 40 plus as an opener in the seaming conditions like England where you have to face new ball right from the start you can’t ask for more than this from a Pakistani opener.
He maintained his average of 40 plus in England tour while carrying the burden of captaincy on his shoulders. Now he is free from captaincy and hopefully he will perform well against the top class teams in the upcoming mega event.
People criticize him for his low strike rate but technically it is very difficult for an opener to play a bit quicker while facing the new ball from both ends, and when you have some good finishers at the end who can match up the required total then you can’t blame an opener for low strike rate, Pakistani batsmen usually takes their time to get settle.
Azhar Ali need to improve his strike rate by rotating the strike every now and then to make sure that his critics won’t criticize him any more. Lets hope he will do a better job in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy to take Pakistan to another level.