Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali, who recently hinted at reversing his retirement in ODIs, has come with full praise on England all-rounder Ben Stokes and hoped that his own country would also find a player like the New Zealander-born southpaw in the near future.
Stokes is in the pink of his cricketing career with some memorable feats in recent times. While he played a big role in helping England win their maiden World Cup title last month, he produced a miracle by single-handedly winning a Test match against Australia in the ongoing Ashes at Leeds last weekend.
England were chasing 359 to level the series and lost their ninth wicket on 286. But Stokes (135 not out) kept going along with No.11 Jack Leach (1 not out) and the two added 76 runs to take their side home. The epic knock earned Stokes accolades across the board, even from the opponents’ camp. Ali was no exception either.
‘Stokes a polished all-rounder now’
“We all saw that innings, and we should all congratulate him on the way he won the game for England. Ben Stokes at the moment is a pretty polished all-rounder, who won the World Cup as well. So finding a player of such calibre is not an easy task even England will find it hard to find second player like him,” the 34-year-old Azhar was quoted as saying to media persons at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
“Pakistan does have players that can finish the game, but Ben Stokes is a great player and hopefully we would see a player like him in the near future,” he said. Azhar, who was made the Pakistan captain after the 2011 World Cup, announced his retirement from the 50-over format before this year’s World Cup. He has played in 53 ODIs for his country, scoring 1,845 runs at an average of 37 and scored three hundreds. A member of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy-winning squad of 2017, Azhar played his last ODI against New Zealand in January 2018.
The man, who last played in a Test against South Africa in January this year, said the departure of players like Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan has left a void and it has caused Pakistan to slump in the long format. He said Pakistan need to win in outside conditions to improve their Test ranking which is at seventh at the moment.
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