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Azhar Ali: Worcestershire sign Pakistan batter to replace Matthew Wade

Worcestershire have brought in Pakistan batter Azhar Ali as a replacement for the unavailable Matthew Wade for the 2022 County Championship season.

Former Somerset right-hander Azhar, 36, has hit 18 centuries in 91 Test matches for his country, averaging 42.53.

He will replace Australia batter Wade, who had agreed to join the Pears but has instead been picked up by Indian Premier League side Gujarat Titans.

Azhar should be available for all 14 of the Pears' Division Two games in 2022.

"It is a fantastic signing and [head coach] Alex Gidman is delighted," said Worcestershire cricket steering group chairman Paul Pridgeon.

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"His record in Test cricket is outstanding, and he offers great experience and is of high quality."

Former Pakistan skipper Azhar played 19 County Championship games over three years for Somerset, scoring a century on his debut against Worcestershire at Taunton in 2018.

He could make his debut in the Pears' opener away to Leicestershire at the Uptonsteel County Ground on 7 April.

"It is excellent that we've got someone available to play County Championship cricket all summer. It gives us that stability," said Pridgeon.

"The fact Azhar has played county cricket already so knows all about English conditions is another plus factor."

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