LAHORE - Pakistan veteran cricketer Shoaib Malik has said that if he remains fit, he is keen to play two more global ICC events before bowing out of the game.
Talking to reporters here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday after a training session for the Asia Cup 2018 commencing in UAE from September 15, Malik said: “If my fitness and form permit me, the 2020 ICC World Twenty20 in Australia would be my last tournament. I have said this before on many occasions that the 2019 50-over World Cup will be my last World Cup.
“My goal is also to play World T20 and end my T20 career after that but that depends on my fitness and will be based on discussions with the PCB as I believe honesty is important as a cricketer. If you feel that another player can come in place of you and play better, then he should be given a chance. My goal is to play these two World Cups but it will depend on my fitness and if I feel that the time has come to take retirement, I will definitely take that option,” he added.
Shoaib, who turned 36 in February, made his international debut in an ODI against West Indies in October 1999 and made his Test debut in August 2001 versus Bangladesh. He has featured in 266 ODIs and 103 Twenty20 internationals. However, in this time he has only featured in one World Cup, the 2007 edition in the West Indies.
The all-rounder has urged the team to bring its one-day performance at par with the Test cricket in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), when it opens its campaign in the Asia Cup on September 15. "It is on record that our team performs well in the Test format in the UAE, whereas its performance in the one-day cricket is not of that level, and there is a dire need to bring improvement in the 50-over format for achieving the set targets.
"Nowadays, one-day cricket has become more or less T20 thrilling format of the game, as the first three batsmen with their solid innings or a specific bowler with two or three wickets breakthrough adds to the performance of their team and can turn the tables of the match," he added.
Malik said that the players should not take extra pressure while playing against India in the Asia Cup match on September 19 and take it as a routine game. "No doubt, the matches between Pakistan and India are always thrilling and nerve-wrecking as they are being watched by millions of cricketers across the globe and in such circumstances, if a player takes extra pressure, it is obvious that he cannot give his best performance," he said.
He urged the fellow colleagues to take the match easy and exhibit their natural game. "It is a hard fact that Pakistan-India matches take place after a long gap, which makes such ties very important and the match winning team's top performer gains the status of heroes," he said. "If both the countries play cricket on regular basis, these matches will not be considered of high importance."
The veteran cricketer said that Pakistan and India should play more matches. “There should be cricket events on regular basis between Pakistan and India as bilateral cricket series between the two neighbours will not only promote cricket but also help bring closer the peoples of the two nations.”
Malik sits at eighth place in Pakistan’s all-time ODI run table with 7015 at an average of 35.07, and in July became the second Pakistan cricketer to achieve the double of 7,000 runs and 150 wickets in ODIs. In T20Is, he has scored the most runs for Pakistan (2109 at a strike-rate of 122.90) to go with 27 wickets.
To a query regarding the status of his child, Malik, who is married to Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, said his child will neither have Pakistani nor Indian nationality rather he/she will have nationality of some other country.
He said his wife Sania is pregnant and expecting a baby soon. "I have taken permission from the team management to remain with my wife at the time of birth. It is going to be a memorable moment of my life to become a father. I appeal to my fans to pray for my wife and baby at this special moment.”