LAHORE - Pakistan opening batsman Azhar Ali has announced his retirement from one-day internationals, saying he wants to focus only on Test cricket.

“It is right time to say goodbye to 50-over game and to fully concentrate on Test cricket, which requires extra effort and hard work,” said the 33-year-old former captain during a press conference here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.

Azhar seemed contended while announcing his retirement from one-day cricket, saying he had taken the decision after a lot of consideration and after consulting his family members, friends, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and other well-wishers. Azhar made his debut in 2011 against Ireland and represented the country in 53 ODIs and scored 1,845 runs at an average of 36.9. He scored three centuries and 12 half-centuries during his ODI career while he was also appointed captain of national one day team in 2015.

The senior batsman said that national one-day team was blending into a good winning combination, which is evident from its performance and the young players were putting in hard work and showing greater commitment to take national cricket to excellence. “The one-day team is in good combination which should be retained in order to get success in 50-over format to produce good performance in the next year’s World Cup,” said the batsman, who played his last ODI on January 13 earlier this year in New Zealand.

Azhar’s last major contribution came in the Champions Trophy last year when he scored 59 in the final against India after a 50 against the same opponents in the league stage and 76 against England in the semi-final. He was dropped after the New Zealand tour earlier this year to be replaced by Imam-ul-Haq, who has scored three centuries and as many half-centuries in 10 innings since the Zimbabwe tour in July.

Replying to a query, Azhar said that he enjoyed playing one-day cricket and got immense support from fellow colleagues and he is thankful to all of them in elevating the team’s performance as a leading side. “In every player’s career, certain moments come when he has to decide about his prospects in the game based on his achievements, form and fitness.

“I am of the view that I can still serve the game (one-day cricket) but my focus is now on Test cricket which is the most difficult version of the game and requires demonstration of the best ability of a player,” he said and added: “Obviously, there are ups and downs in every player’s career but I have not taken this decision as I was not selected in one-day team. I have no regrets while quitting one-day international cricket.”

Azhar termed Sarfraz Ahmed the best captain, who has the potential to lead the side from front. “As a former captain, I wish the team very best for an important season ahead before the World Cup next year. I fully support Sarfraz Ahmed. He has been leading them very well.” He also announced to continue playing one-day and T20 cricket at domestic level.