The rejuvenation of all-rounder Shoaib Malik

Sajid Sadiq 21/10/2015
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Shoaib Malik scored his maiden double century in Abu Dhabi.

“Right now I’m not enjoying playing for Pakistan” lamented an exasperated Shoaib Malik in an interview in June 2014. The former Pakistan captain and well respected all-rounder with an international record which would be the envy of many was finding it difficult to re-establish himself in any Pakistan playing XI and his comments, at that time, were a mere reflection of his personal frustration at his situation.

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Whilst Shoaib had a role in the ODI and T20I teams throughout his career, his role as a Test player came under serious threat when he was not included in any Test squad after the now infamous 2010 tour of England. The 2013 Champions Trophy debacle where Pakistan ended at the bottom of the table also threatened to make tenuous whatever links he had with the shorter format of the game in the Pakistan team. As a consequence Shoaib was not considered for any ODI games for Pakistan in 2014; his international career now hanging by a thread by his association with the Pakistan T20 team. Thus his statement about not enjoying playing cricket for Pakistan was a true reflection of the future in international cricket that he faced.

Unlike many who when faced with such adversity would have thrown in the towel, Shoaib Malik possibly inspired by the success in Tennis of his wife Sania Mirza, continued to star in domestic cricket in Pakistan leading a successful Sialkot side to many victories and also made appearances in international leagues such as the Australian Big Bash League and the Caribbean Premier League.

If 2014 had been Shoaib Malik’s annus horribilis, then the following year was to be the year of his redemption.

Although not selected for the 2015 World Cup and the subsequent nightmare tour of Bangladesh, Shoaib Malik was included in the squad for the historic home series against Zimbabwe in May where he announced his return to ODI cricket with a swashbuckling century against a hapless opposition. His fairy tale return to cricket and his contribution to Pakistan’s success was to continue in the next ODI Series against Sri Lanka and then in a mini series against Zimbabwe. The year 2015 has thus far proved to be an eye-opener for many of his critics and possibly Malik himself, where he finds himself sitting pretty with an ODI average so far of 100 which given his pariah status a few months ago is an achievement in itself.

But his success story of 2015 did not stop there. Having demonstrated his all-round prowess in 2015, the thirty-three year old Malik then defied the odds by becoming a special inclusion in the Pakistan Test squad for the ongoing series against England in the UAE. Whilst many believed this to be a knee-jerk reaction to his ODI success, there appeared to be scant chances of his making the final line-up for the Pakistan Test team.

An unfortunate injury to Pakistan ODI captain Azhar Ali and the last minute exclusion of leg-spinner Yasir Shah due to a back spasm meant that the all-rounder who last played for Pakistan almost five years ago was given a place in the Test team for the first Test in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first and after the familiar fall of the first wicket, the world of cricket saw Malik walk in and re-start his Test career as if the absence of close to five years was just a short break. Once again the naysayers claimed that Shoaib Malik would struggle to find form but once again, Malik as has become his wont, defied the odds. Six hundred and thirty-nine minutes later and in the blistering day time heat of Abu Dhabi, Shoaib Malik walked off the field with his highest personal score and a double century to his name. The Malik resurrection, it appears, was now complete and he announced his return to the highest form of cricket in style.

If being selected for the final eleven was an achievement, his exploits on his return to Test cricket was a feat that left many shaking their heads in disbelief. Whilst Pakistan and Malik did suffer a batting failure of embarrassing proportions in the second innings, the all-rounder seems to have made a point and the selectors from this point onward will find it difficult to ignore him for the rest of the series and possibly beyond. Whether Shoaib Malik V2.0 can now stay the course and continue to amaze his friends and critics is a question only time can answer but if his current form is any guide, the double century in Abu Dhabi is one of many top performances that we will see from the all-rounder in the future.

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Ponting 'present when Cairns made proposition to McCullum'

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Ricky Ponting played in the same IPL team as Brendon McCullum.

Former Australia cricket captain Ricky Ponting was present when New Zealand player Brendon McCullum received a “business proposition” from Chris Cairns, a court has heard.

– Also: Court hears Cairns urged Vincent to fix
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– Also: NZ cricket great Cairns charged with perjury

Mr Ponting, 40, told Cairns’s perjury trial that he remembered a conversation he had with Mr McCullum in a hotel room in India in 2008.

At the time the men had been playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Mr McCullum took a short phone call and subsequently explained to Mr Ponting that it had been from Cairns making a “business proposal”, the court was told.

Appearing at London’s Southwark Crown Court via video link from Australia, former batsman Mr Ponting said: “I was staying with Brendon in the team hotel in Calcutta in 2008 on the eve of the first IPL tournament.

“We were just sitting, sharing a drink, when he received a phone call – his phone rang. It was a very brief phone conversation, probably less than five minutes.

“He put the phone down, hung up and said it was Cairnsy and he ‘just made me a business proposition’.

“We stayed together for a short time. I didn’t ask any more questions … As soon as I heard it was about business, I wasn’t interested any more.”

Giving evidence last week Mr McCullum, 34, claimed the proposition was about match fixing, and that Cairns told him other players “did not have the balls to do it”.

He added that Cairns, who was considered one of the best all-rounders in the world for much of his career, shifted the discussion to the topic of “spot fixing” while they were in a hotel room in Calcutta in April 2008.

Mr McCullum, a wicketkeeper-batsman, said he was “shocked” by the query, in which Cairns allegedly sketched out his suggestions on a piece of paper.

Mr McCullum claimed the meeting took place in Cairns’s hotel room. It had been arranged when Mr McCullum was in a bar with Mr Ponting, and Mr McCullum got a taxi to the hotel, he said.

Over a bottle of red wine and a curry ordered on room service, Cairns asked Mr McCullum if he knew “anything about spot fixing in cricket”, Mr McCullum claimed.

In 2010 Cairns was accused by the chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi, on Twitter of match-fixing at the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) two years earlier.

He brought a libel action against Mr Modi and successfully sued him, winning £90,000 in damages.

Cairns, 45, from Auckland, is charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, while Andrew Fitch-Holland, from Burton Road, Manchester, is accused of perverting the course of justice.

They both deny the charges.

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Ali focused on scoring runs as opener

andrewbinner 20/10/2015
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Moeen Ali praised England legspinner Adil Rashid on Tuesday (20th October) for the way he bounced back in the second innings of the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.









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