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Azhar Ali signs as Somerset overseas player after Matt Renshaw injury

CricketAzhar Ali signs as Somerset overseas player after Matt Renshaw injury

Azhar Ali, Pakistan’s Test opener, will make his first appearances in the County Championship later this summer after signing a seven-match deal with Somerset that will take him through to the end of the season.azhar ali

Azhar, who had been in Somerset’s sights since the end of Pakistan’s Test tour in May and June, has been signed as a replacement for the Australian Matt Renshaw, who made three centuries at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Renshaw had himself been signed as a replacement for his fellow Australian opener, Cameron Bancroft, who was withdrawn from availability in the wake of the ball-tampering scandal in Cape Town in March.

“Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali’s character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches,” Somerset’s director of cricket, Andy Hurry, said.

“His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season. I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club”.

Azhar endured a lean time during Pakistan’s three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings with a solitary fifty during Pakistan’s memorable victory at Lord’s.

However, he had been strongly encouraged to seek out a county deal by the Pakistan coach, Mickey Arthur, who recognised the need for his senior players to get enough game-time in the off-season, ahead of their home series against Australia and New Zealand in October and November.

“The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches,” Azhar said. “I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016. I am looking forward to joining my new team-mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon.”

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