Pakistan batter Azhar Ali will retire from Test cricket after the final match of the series against England.

The 37-year-old has announced the 97th match of his career in the longest format at the National Stadium in Karachi, which starts on Saturday, will be his last.

Azhar is Pakistan's fifth-highest Test-run scorer with 7,097 at an average of 42.49, making an outstanding 19 hundreds and 35 half-centuries after making his debut in 2010.

The classy right-hander, whose highest score was a magnificent 302 not out against West Indies in 2016, captained his country in nine Tests during two tenures.

Azhar said: "It has been a great honour and privilege for me to represent my country at the highest level. Deciding on when to call it a day is always tough, but, after contemplating deeply, I realised that this is the right time for me to retire from Test cricket.

"There are many people who I am grateful to in this strenuous, yet beautiful journey. I want to make a special mention of my family without whose sacrifices; I would not have been where I am today. My parents, wife, siblings, and children have been my strength throughout.

"I have been blessed to share a dressing room with some of the most outstanding cricketers with whom I share a strong bond. I feel much richer by calling these people my friends. I am also blessed to have played under some wonderful coaches to whom I will always remain grateful. 

"I retire from international cricket as a fulfilled cricketer who ticked most of the goals he had set for himself. Not many cricketers go on to lead their countries, and that I was able to captain Pakistan is a matter of great pride for me.

"From being a kid who started as a leg-spinner to becoming a mainstay in the Test batting line-up, I had the loveliest moments of my life that I will cherish forever."

Captain Pat Cummins will make his return for Australia's first Test against South Africa at the Gabba.

The paceman was absent for Australia's series-sealing second-Test win over the West Indies last week, a match that saw Steve Smith stand in as skipper, due to a quad injury.

Cummins is ready to face Dean Elgar's men, though, and will replace Michael Neser in the only change to the XI.

With Josh Hazlewood still out with an ongoing side strain, Cummins will form part of a bowling attack that includes Scott Boland, Mitchell Starc, all-rounder Cameron Green, and spinner Nathan Lyon.

Speaking on Friday, Cummins said about a Gabba pitch that looks favourable for pace bowling: "A couple of the boys said it's similar to what they've seen here in the past. It looks like there's a bit of grass. So, we'll see how it looks tomorrow.

"They'll give it a final cut. It always looks pretty green here a couple of days out, then on the morning of day one it looks a bit different."

The series is the first time South Africa have played Test cricket in Australia since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal, which led to bans for Aussie trio Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

The first Test starts on Saturday, with two more contests scheduled to begin at the MCG and SCG on December 26 and January 4 respectively.

England seamer Ollie Robinson feared he would have to bring his career to an early end due to injury,

The 29-year-old has played a big part in England's first Test series win in Pakistan, taking five wickets in Rawalpindi and three in Multan.

Robinson had suffered a series of injury setbacks and came in for criticism for his lack of fitness during the Ashes series hammering in Australia at the start of this year.

Back issues badly hampered Robinson and he was concerned that his playing days could be over.

"I kept coming back to full fitness, then getting an injury or illness, then another injury," he told BBC Sport.

"There were points when I didn't think I was going to play for England again, or play cricket again.

"I thought 'I might have to look at what else I can do here, I don't think I'm going to be able to carry on playing cricket'."

England will attempt to secure a whitewash of Pakistan in a third and final Test that starts at the National Stadium in Karachi on Saturday.

Robinson is savouring a special tour following such a challenging period.

"It's probably the toughest 12 months I've had as a professional cricketer," said Sussex's Robinson.

"It's a really proud tour for me, in the fact my body has got through it, I've bowled well and I've proved to the world I can do it in any conditions.

"It's been tough and there have been some dark days, but series wins like this make it all worthwhile."

Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj did the damage as India dominated day two of the first Test against Bangladesh at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

The tourists put on 111 for the last three wickets to post 404 all out in Chattogram and Bangladesh were in trouble on 133-8 at stumps in reply after losing six wickets in the final session on Thursday, trailing by 271 runs.

India were 293-7 when Shreyas Iyer was bowled by Ebadot Hossain for 86, but Ravichandran Ashwin made 58 and Kuldeep 40 to get them up to an imposing total.

Taijul Islam (4-133) and Mehidy Hasan (4-112) took four wickets apiece For the Tigers, with Iyer dropped three times and getting another life on day one when an Ebadot delivery struck his off stump, but the bails stayed on.

Siraj had Najmul Hossain Shanto caught behind with the first ball of Bangladesh's innings and Umesh Yadav got in on the act by bowling Yasir Ali, reducing Bangladesh to 5-2.

The wickets continued to tumble as Kuldeep and Siraj tore through the Tigers, with Zakir Hasan, Litton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim getting starts but falling to go on.

Kuldeep took 4-33 and Siraj was superb with the new ball, claiming 3-14 as India took command. Mehidy and Ebadot prevented further damage being done by combining for an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 31.

Kuldeep delivers late birthday presents

Tweaker Kuldeep celebrated his 28th birthday on Wednesday and celebrated a day later by making an impact with bat and ball.

Playing his first Test since February 2021, he struck four boundaries in a 114-ball knock, proving excellent support for Ashwin in an eighth-wicket stand of 92.

Kuldeep was also on the money with ball in hand, captain Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur among his victims.

Siraj the spearhead

The Bangladesh batters had no answer to seamer Siraj, who set the tone by striking with his first delivery.

He also had Zakir Hasan caught behind by Rishabh Pant and got one to nip in and clean up Das.

Ish Sodhi has been recalled to New Zealand's Test squad for the upcoming tour of Pakistan, four years after he last played for the Black Caps in this format.

The Canterbury leg-spinner has been included in the 15-player squad for the two-Test series, which begins in Karachi on December 26 before concluding in Multan eight days later.

Sodhi has remained a mainstay in his nation's T20 side, having recently claimed his 100th wicket in that format, and coach Gary Stead highlighted the importance of his return to the red-ball setup.

"Ish has been playing international cricket for almost a decade now, and we're backing his skills and experience," he said.

"Looking at the current conditions and style of play in the Pakistan and England Test series, we feel having a wrist-spinner in the team will be important."

Meanwhile, this will be Tim Southee's first Test as captain with Kane Williamson also included after announcing his decision to step down as skipper in this format.

Uncapped Blair Tickner could make his Test bow, while Glenn Phillips has been named in the squad almost three years on from his sole red-ball appearance against Australia in January 2020.

New Zealand Test squad to face Pakistan: Tim Southee (captain), Michael Bracewell, Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Ish Sodhi, Blair Tickner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.

Kane Williamson has stepped down as New Zealand's Test captain and will be replaced by Tim Southee, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) announced on Wednesday.

Captain in the Test format since 2016, Williamson has won 22 of his 38 matches as Black Caps skipper, ranking second all-time in victories behind Stephen Fleming.

Williamson led the team to victory in the ICC World Test Championship final last year when they defeated India by eight wickets in England.

The 32-year-old has struggled with an elbow injury of late and he has not scored a century since January 2021 against Pakistan.

The decision comes with Williamson reportedly wanting to manage his workload, though he will continue to captain the team in T20I and ODI matches.

Southee is an experienced replacement, having played 346 internationals since making his New Zealand debut in 2008.

The fast bowler will become the Black Caps' 31st Test captain later on this month when his team's tour to Pakistan begins.

Opener Tom Latham will assume the role of vice-captain having previously deputised for Williamson during his injury absence.

Williamson feels it is the right time to step back from his role in the red-ball team, saying in the NZC's statement: "Captaining the BLACKCAPS in Test cricket has been an incredibly special honour.

"For me, Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game and I've enjoyed the challenges of leading the side in the format.

"Captaincy comes with an increased workload on and off the field and at this stage of my career I feel the time is right for this decision.

"After discussions with NZC, we felt that continuing to captain the white-ball formats was preferable with two World Cups in the next two years.

"I'm excited to support Tim [Southee] as captain and Tom [Latham] as vice-captain. Having played with both of them for most of my career, I'm confident they'll do a great job.

"Playing for the BLACKCAPS and contributing in all three formats is my number one priority and I'm looking forward to the cricket we have ahead."

David White, NZC CEO, added: "Kane is one of our all-time greats and our priority is to ensure he enjoys his cricket and plays for New Zealand for as long as possible.

"He's a brilliant leader and the success the team has achieved during his time in the longest and arguably toughest format of the game, has been nothing short of remarkable.

"Statistically, he's the most successful Test captain we've ever had – which culminated in the team rising to the number one ICC Test ranking at the start of 2021 and the eventual victory in the ICC World Test Championship Final in June that year."

Southee spoke of his pride at being named the new captain, declaring: "It's been a surreal few days and it’s just a massive honour to be appointed as Test captain.

"Kane's been an outstanding Test captain and I'm looking forward to working with Gary [Stead, New Zealand head coach] on how we can build on that."

New Zealand get their tour to Pakistan underway on December 26, when the first Test starts in Karachi.

Andrew Flintoff is in hospital after the former England captain was involved in a car crash while filming the BBC television show Top Gear on Tuesday.

The incident took place at Dunsfold Park Aerodrome in Surrey, where the 45-year-old - nicknamed 'Freddie' - received medical care before reportedly being airlifted to hospital.

A BBC spokesperson said: "Freddie was injured in an accident at the Top Gear test track this [Tuesday] morning – with crew medics attending the scene immediately.

"He has been taken to hospital for further treatment and we will confirm more details in due course."

An initial report in The Sun said Flintoff's injuries are not life-threatening.

The all-rounder made 79 Test, 141 ODI and seven T20I appearances for England during an impressive international cricket career between 1998 and 2009.

Flintoff has moved into television since his retirement from cricket, and has been a part of the Top Gear presenting team since 2019.

Mark Wood considered giving up Test cricket during his long absence with injury before playing a starring role in England's second Test triumph over Pakistan.

Wood had not played a Test since March because of an elbow injury, but helped inspire England to a 26-run victory in Multan with crucial wickets on the final day that swung a see-saw game back in his team's favour.

The Test was Wood's first under new captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum, with England having now won eight of their nine Tests with that combination at the helm.

After missing the first eight matches of the new leadership's tenure, Wood was delighted to be back involved in the red-ball side after pondering whether to give it up during his time away.

"I desperately wanted to experience this, with Stokesy and Brendon," Wood told reporters. "I'm pleased I stuck with it.

"I wondered if I'd go white-ball only. At some my point my body will say that it's the way to go but I didn't prepare for white-ball, I prepared for all cricket."

Stokes' in-form side became the first England team to win two Tests in a series in Pakistan, and Wood is thrilled with his Durham team-mate's impressive start to life as captain.

"It's weird, the lad I grew up with," Wood added. "Stokesy now is much more mature.

"He speaks so well – he's always had a fantastic cricket brain. But the way he comes across, the way he conducts himself and the messages that he gives, he's just so much more rounded than when we were growing up.

"He was this alpha guy who would whack it, never back down. He's still got all that, but he's got other sides to him now. He'll put an arm round people, express what he means really articulately.

"He's been world-class, to be fair."

Naseem Shah has been ruled out of Pakistan's third Test against England in Karachi as he continues to struggle with a shoulder injury.

Shah was in clear discomfort with his right shoulder during the opening Test loss in Rawalpindi, though he still managed to pick up five wickets on a flat pitch.

The 19-year-old paceman missed the second Test in Multan, where England secured their first Test series win in Pakistan for 22 years with a thrilling 26-run victory.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has confirmed the fast bowler will play no part in the third and final Test, which starts on Saturday.

"A niggle in the bowling shoulder has ruled out Naseem Shah from the third and final Test between Pakistan and England at Karachi," a PCB said in a statement.

"The fast bowler will travel to Lahore where he will undergo further assessment at the National High Performance Centre before beginning rehabilitation.

"The team management has not requested for his replacement at this stage."

Pakistan have also been without fellow quicks Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf through injury.

Ben Stokes believes Harry Brook can emulate Virat Kohli's all-format batting dominance after the England youngster again impressed in Pakistan.

Yorkshire batter Brook played a key role as England secured a first Test series victory in Pakistan in 22 years after a nail-biting 26-run victory in Multan on Monday.

The 23-year-old managed only nine runs in the first innings but responded with 109 in the second – the only century of the second Test – to help England to an unassailable 2-0 series lead.

That form comes as no surprise given Brook blasted 153 and 87 in Rawalpindi, with his red-ball international average sitting at an impressive 73.8 from his five innings.

Yet Stokes believes this is only the start for Brook, who he expects to shine across all formats of cricket as he compared the England batter to India great Kohli.

"After the summer he had last year, getting all the big-ups before he made his debut, to come here and put in that kind of performance again was just phenomenal," Stokes told Sky Sports.

"He's one of those rare players that you look across all formats and you can just see him being successful everywhere.

"It's a massive shout, but Virat Kohli is one of those guys where his technique is just so simple and works everywhere. The pressure that he puts back onto opposition is exactly what we're about."

Brook accumulated just 56 runs, averaging just 11.2 across six innings, as England lifted their second T20 World Cup in Australia.

The middle-order batter has impressed in the shortest format for England in his 20 outings, though, with the expectation he will slot into Jos Buttler's side for the 50-over Cricket World Cup in India in 2023.

Stokes does not foresee the pressure impacting the form of Brook, given the comfortable manner in which he stepped into the Test side.

"The expectation on his shoulders coming into this team, because of how good he's been for Yorkshire, was obviously huge," he said.

"But I think that just shows that kind of stuff doesn't really affect him. He's a player whose technique is suited to all three formats, he wants to always look to be putting pressure back onto the opposition, and he's won another game for England.

"[He made a] huge contribution last week, and the hundred he scored here was obviously massive for us in getting that big lead.

"He's a pretty simple lad to captain: he just gets about his business, loves his batting, wants to constantly improve, constantly work on it. He's a pretty easy bloke to have in your dressing room."

Jonny Bairstow's injury offered Brook the chance to take the number-five role for Stokes, with the England Test captain acknowledging he is fortunate to have a wealth of batting talent to call upon.

"We're very, very lucky with the way in which we can replace Jonny, to have Harry coming in, because those two, batting No.5, they both go about it in exactly the same way," he added.

"They bring so much to the team and obviously Harry playing the way he has done at the moment with Jonny not being in the team, unfortunately, it's the best thing you want.

"You want competition for places, you want a strong squad to be able to pick from, and you want those headaches when it comes to the final XI every week, rather than saying 'I'm not sure who we're going to pick, let's pick a name out of the hat.'

"We're definitely not in that situation, and we feel like we've got all bases covered at the moment."

Ben Stokes hopes England's thrilling series victory in Pakistan will help to dispel negative perceptions of Test cricket across the sport. 

England took an unassailable lead in the three-match series – their first in Pakistan since 2005 – by seeing out a 26-run win in a nail-biting end to the second Test on Monday.

An 80-run stand between Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Nawaz looked to have put Pakistan on course for victory in Multan, but Mark Wood felled both men before Ollie Robinson had Mohammad Ali nick behind for the final wicket in a dramatic finish.

While Pakistan have now lost three straight home Test matches for the first time since 1959, England brought an end to their 22-year wait for a red-ball triumph in the country.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the victory, Stokes, who has overseen eight wins in his nine Tests as skipper, praised England for redefining the format.

"We do understand how special an achievement this is, but as we keep saying, these series victories and these wins are part of a much bigger picture in what we're trying to achieve," he said.

"When I first got the job, I just wanted to come in and just try and change a few things up and get things going in a different direction. 

"We were never focusing too much on results when I came into the job, and obviously the bigger picture and stuff like that, but it's been an amazing nine games to start off with.

"I just feel very honoured and very privileged to be a part of something like this and having everyone, not just the players but the backroom staff and everyone that works alongside us, being on the same path. It's really, really good.

"I knew how much enjoyment the public would get out of seeing England play Pakistan in a Test match in Pakistan. I don't feel like we're playing away, if that makes sense. 

"The way in which the crowd come and watch cricket, they just want to see good cricket. We walk off to people enjoying what they've just watched. That's what we want to do.

"Wherever we go in the world, we want people to enjoy the cricket, and the more we can do that, the more Test cricket stops getting spoken about like it's the losing form of cricket, because it's definitely not.

"All we can do is try to create something where we people want to be a part of the long format going forward."

England will head to Karachi for the final match of their long-awaited tour, which gets under way on Saturday. 

Babar Azam felt the decision to give Saud Shakeel out cost Pakistan as they slumped to a Test series defeat to England on day four at Multan Cricket Stadium.

The tourists won another dramatic match by 26 runs on Monday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Shakeel (94) and Mohammad Nawaz (45) appeared to have given Pakistan the upper hand with a sixth-wicket stand of 80, but both were removed in quick succession by Mark Wood.

Aleem Dar put his finger up after Shakeel edged a delivery from Wood down the leg side and third umpire Joel Wilson stayed with the on-field decision, seeing no evidence that Ollie Pope did not take the ball cleanly.

Pakistan captain Babar believes Shakeel should have remained in the middle.

He said: "The Shakeel dismissal cost us. It looked to us as if the ball had touched the ground. As a professional, you have to respect the umpire's decision, but we felt the ball had been grounded."

England skipper Ben Stokes had a different opinion on the incident.

He said: "I don't think [there were any doubts about the catch], personally. The only thing where you start worrying is when it gets looked at for a long period of time because that's when you start having doubt in your own head.

"I've been part of games before where I've been on the team who's been on the receiving end of those decisions and you're always like, 'that's not carried'.

"You see a lot of those decisions and those type of catches in cricket. You could say the similar thing was when Rooty [Joe Root] got caught at short leg - you could say that might have touched the floor.

"But you've just got to go with what the umpire's decision is. It went our way but I've been involved in a few decisions where stuff like that has gone against us. But you can't change that."

Mark Wood reflected on England's Test series victory over Pakistan as "a monumental day" after they won by 26 runs on day four at Multan Cricket Stadium.

Wood steamed in to take 4-65 as the tourists took an unassailable 2-0 lead with one match to play.

England had only won two Tests in Pakistan before a dramatic triumph in Rawalpindi last week and have now doubled their tally.

Ben Stokes' in-form side have made history, becoming the first England team to win two Tests in a series in Pakistan as they continue to ride on the crest of a wave under the inspiration captain and head coach Brendon McCullum.

Fast bowler Wood swung the game back in England's favour by getting Mohammad Nawaz (45) caught behind to end a sixth-wicket stand of 80 before seeing the back of Saud Shakeel (94) in his next over.

The excellent (2-23) Ollie Robinson finished off the job, while James Anderson (2-44) also bowled brilliantly in win that will live long in the memory for Wood.

He told Test Match Special: "It's a monumental day. Amazing feeling. The effort that everyone's put stands out for me. It's not just one game, it's two games.

Wood added: "I managed to get two wickets when Stokesy asked me to change the game. All game I got my bouncer a bit too off side but in that spell, I got it right.

"I feel knackered. It was a big effort and I'm proud of myself for it. Everyone feels great."

Wood continued: "It's something we'll look back at proudly at the end of our career. It hasn't sunk in completely yet but I think we'll be very proud."

England have won eight of their nine Tests with Stokes as skipper and McCullum at the helm.

Mark Wood inspired England to a first away Test-series win against Pakistan in 21 years after another dramatic match finished in a 26-run victory in Multan.

An 80-run stand between the formidable Saud Shakeel (94) and Mohammad Nawaz (45) had put Pakistan in a great position to level this sensational series at 1-1.

But Wood snared both their wickets in a brilliant spell shortly before lunch to swing it back in England's favour and finished with 4-65 in the second innings.

Ollie Robinson had Mohammad Ali nick behind for the final wicket as Pakistan were all out for 328 in pursuit of 355.

England had just two wins on Pakistan soil in the preceding 60 years prior to this series and have chalked up as many in the past fortnight. For the hosts, it is the first time they have lost three straight home Test matches since 1959.

It had not looked a foregone conclusion either, even after Faheem Ashraf poked a Joe Root off-break to Zak Crawley in the clips.

Shakeel had batted valiantly for almost five-and-a-half hours as Pakistan put themselves in a great position for a series-levelling victory.

At 290-5, captain Ben Stokes pulled Wood for a chat and immediately a short one from the paceman saw Nawaz play behind.

From Wood's next over, the dangerous Shakeel was gone, albeit contentiously when caught by Pope, with replays unable to conclusively show whether he had dragged the ball along the ground.

The soft dismissal was upheld, but Abrar Ahmed's fine debut continued with a quickfire 17 that was ended when he whacked James Anderson to Ben Duckett at cover.

Wood came back to rip up Zahid Mahmood's off stump and, although Agha Salman (20no) continued to give Pakistan hope, Robinson finished the job to complete one of England's finest away series wins and make it eight victories from nine Tests under Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

 

Wood rises to the occasion

Wood's injury troubles have been well documented but when fit and firing he is a huge asset to England and so it proved here.

With his side under the cosh and facing the very realistic prospect of losing the Test, Wood turned a see-saw match back in the tourists' favour.

Shakeel fights hard

That Pakistan were in the game at all owes much to the efforts of Shakeel, who fell agonisingly short of a maiden Test century as he followed up his 63 from the first innings with a patient 213-ball knock.

He will be desperately disappointed with a dismissal that was far from conclusive but his fight gave Pakistan real hope.

Josh Hazlewood has been ruled out of Australia's first Test against South Africa starting in Brisbane on Saturday while Pat Cummins remains in contention to return from injury.

Cricket Australia on Monday confirmed a 14-man squad for the series opener at the Gabba following Sunday's 419-run rout of the West Indies in Adelaide.

Cummins has been named in that squad despite missing the Adelaide pink ball Test with a quad injury, but Hazlewood is absent again with an ongoing side strain issue.

The return of the Australian skipper would mean one of Scott Boland or Michael Neser would likely miss out in Brisbane against the Proteas. Uncapped WA tearaway Lance Morris retains his place in the squad but appears unlikely to break into the XI.

"Pat continues to improve, bowled with freedom on Saturday and appears likely to play this match, although Josh will need more time," selection chief George Bailey said. "With that in mind we have retained Michael Neser and Lance Morris in the squad for this match.

"Michael bowled superbly in Adelaide, as did Scott. We were impressed as always with their performances that backed up what they have achieved in the past. Lance is a very exciting prospect who will benefit from time with the squad.

"With so much cricket ahead, we continue to seek opportunities to grow and maintain our fast-bowling experience and depth."

Neser took five wickets for the match in the second Test against the West Indies, while Boland only managed three, but the latter's trio came in one devastating over in the second innings.

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