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‘No one close to my numbers at No.5/6’ – Azam Khan urges Pakistan to not keep him ‘in the grey’ over T20I selection

Azam Khan of Pakistan bats during game three of the T20 International series between New Zealand and Pakistan at University of Otago Oval on January 17, 2024 in Dunedin, New Zealand.
by Atri Sanfui 3 minute read

Out-of-favour wicketkeeper-batter Azam Khan has claimed that his batting numbers as a T20 finisher are currently unmatched in Pakistan cricket and has urged the selectors to give him a long run.

Since his T20I debut in 2021, Azam has only played eight matches, with his latest opportunities coming in the New Zealand series in January. Azam played the first three T20Is, scoring only 22 runs at an average of 7.33 and was dropped for the remaining two matches. In his short career, he has been dropped five times.

In an interview with Cricwick, Azam Khan rued the lack of opportunities to play for Pakistan, claiming he has been made a “scapegoat”.

“The team always comes first for me. If it’s a team game and only an individual is made a scapegoat, it makes me a bit angry,” Azam said.

“I get frustrated sometimes. Yes, I deserve an opportunity. I have made three comebacks into the Pakistan team in the past five years,” he continued.

“There’s no one close to my batting numbers at the No.5 and No.6 positions in Pakistan,” Azam claimed. “In the last four years, only twelve batters have scored runs at an average of more than 25 and a strike-rate in excess of 145 in T20 cricket.

He goes on to refer to a note, listing down names to back his claim.

“The complete list includes Tim David, Glenn Phillips, Glenn Maxwell, Nicholas Pooran, Azam Khan, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Harry Brook, Suryakumar Yadav, Marcus Stoinis, Liam Livingstone and Heinrich Klaasen.

“If I stand among these T20 greats in terms of average and strike rate and I am not given the confidence, cricket has become so fast-paced that it won’t be a financial problem for me because you get so many league cricket tournaments. I know I have this opportunity to make money but I want to play for Pakistan.”

To put things in perspective, Azam has the fifth-best strike rate (149.95) among batters at Nos. 5 and 6 who have scored a minimum of 1,700 runs with a cut-off average of 25. Above him are Maxwell (2393 runs at 26.88 and 150.12), Klaasen (1709 runs at 28.48 and 150.44), David (3226 runs at 31.62 and 163.75), and Russell (4510 runs at 25.33 and 171.41).

Azam hasn’t played more than three consecutive T20Is and a full series. Despite his commendable domestic numbers, his T20I returns leave a lot to be desired. He urged the selectors to give him a long rope to prove himself at the international level.

“If you give me a long run and I don’t perform, I have no problem if Pakistan drop me. I will try to find a way in by performing in domestic cricket, different leagues,” he concluded.

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