PORT ELIZABETH: Veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik is relishing the opportunity to play alongside former Pakistan captain and flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi, during the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
While speaking in an interview with Sky Sports, Malik said Afridi still has a lot to offer in the field and he is glad to have him in the Multan Sultans squad.
“He was also a team mate recently in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) with Comilla Victorians and I have played alongside him in other teams in the past too,” said Malik. “Afridi is still playing solid cricket and as a former national team mate and captain of Multan, I’m happy for him to be in our team as he is one of the very few players out there who can single-handedly change the game with their bowling and or batting and sometimes even with their fielding.”
Malik believes that Sultans have assembled a good squad for the next season but losing former Australia captain Steve Smith – due to injury – is a major loss.
“We are a solid team yes and cover all the key roles with some of Pakistan’s and world cricket’s best, but I don’t want to say too much at this time,” he said. “Losing Steve Smith is a huge loss and we have to figure out how to tackle that loss. Hopefully, we will have more to talk about this subject on March 17 after the PSL final happens.”
Speaking about the national team’s success in the shortest format of the game, Malik said: “We have worked hard as a unit and we have every right to be the world’s No 1 T20 team and we must enjoy and cherish this time with everything we have as things in cricket don’t remain the same forever.”
The 36-year-old also spoke about the rise of top-order batsman Babar Azam and his work ethic.
“An important aspect of his [Babar Azam] personality is that he does not get satisfied quickly,” he said. “Everyone out there wants to be the best batsman in the world but wanting something and working for it like you’re obsessed with it are two different things. Babar has made these goals into one.”
Malik also feels Pakistan had a really good chance of lifting the 2019 World Cup trophy in England and Wales while also looking forward to a memorable outing in the event to cap off his career.
“I feel we have a very good chance to win the tournament. But then having a ‘good chance’ doesn’t mean much. How we play each game and how we perform against the rest of the world will define how far we go,” he said. “Yes, we have the ability to win the World Cup hands-down, but abilities don’t win you anything, performances do. Our capabilities include having top ODI bowlers and batsmen in our line-up and personally I’m looking forward to a memorable World Cup 2019.”
Although at this point in time, Malik has no plans to go back on his decision to retire from international cricket after the ICC T20 World Cup in 2020 but the next T20 World Cup in the following year, 2021, could change his mind.
“At this time, I have no plans to change my mind,” he said. “But as we all know 2021 is also a big year for my favourite format, T20 when we will have another World T20 – so you just never know!”