Hafeez to retire from Test cricket after ongoing Abu Dhabi game

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Mohammad Hafeez (AP photo)

Pakistan allrounder Mohammad Hafeez, 38, will retire from Test cricket after the ongoing third game against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi, having informed chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq that he wants to focus on his limited-overs career.

“Today, I want to announce my retirement from the Test-match format so that I can focus my energies on playing for Pakistan in the white-ball formats,” Hafeez said after the second day’s play. “I am eyeing to represent Pakistan in the ICC World Cup next year. I feel honoured that I represented the country in 55 Test matches, including the opportunity of captaining the team. I feel satisfied that I performed to the best of my abilities in my 15 year-long Test career.

“I wish the Test team the very best for their upcoming assignments starting with the tour to South Africa, the team management especially the coach and captain have worked very hard in forming an exciting core of players that can serve for long.”

PCB chairman Ehsan Mani paid tribute to Hafeez, saying his contribution in Test cricket “will be remembered for a long time”.

“Hafeez gave some memorable and matching-winning performances for Pakistan in the Test match format,” Mani said. “He lent great balance to the XI with his bowling abilities.”

One of the longest-serving international cricketers left in the game, Hafeez made his debut in both Test and ODI cricket in 2003. He marked his international debut with a half-century in a seven-wicket win against Sri Lanka in Sharjah that April, in Pakistan’s first ODI since their disappointing showing at the 2003 World Cup.

In all he made 10 Test hundreds in his 15-year career, all of them coming in Asian conditions, including a best of 224 against Bangladesh in Khulna in 2015. His highest score elsewhere was a hard-fought 95 against England at The Oval in 2006, that would surely have set his team up for victory but for the subsequent forfeiture of the match due to a ball-tampering furore.

Hafeez announced his decision after he had managed only 39 runs in four innings and went wicketless against New Zealand. Having been dismissed by Trent Boult for a duck on Tuesday, he could have one final chance to add to his 3644 Test runs, should Pakistan return to bat in their second innings.

Hafeez’s international career appeared to be winding down after he was downgraded in Pakistan’s central contract list in August this year, and he even contemplated retirement. But his wife Nazia, along with the former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, talked him out of it.

After a late call-up to the Pakistan Test squad for their two-Test series against Australia in October, Hafeez marked his return with a hundred in a double-century opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq. Their 205-run partnership in the first Test in Dubai was only the 10th double-century opening stand made against Australia in Test cricket. However, in seven innings since his 126 in Dubai, he has not passed 20. (ESPNCricinfo)

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