Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan allrounder and former captain, has announced that the current Test match against England at Sharjah will be his last.
In a shock announcement at the close of the third day’s play, an emotional Malik, 33, said that the “time was right” to move on, only three matches after his five-year exile from the Test team had come to an end.
His decision came out of blue as he arrived at the end-of-day press conference with a piece of paper in his hand. The team’s assistant manager informed the media that, before taking questions, “Shoaib want to say something”.
His team-mates were also caught unawares. Mohammad Hafeez, talking to the host broadcaster outside the team dressing-room, was shocked when asked to give his reaction and Mushtaq Ahmed, Pakistan’s spin bowling coach, was also taken by surprise.
“I am taking retirement from Test cricket and this is my last Test,” Malik said in his statement. “I would like to thank my family, cricket board, my team-mates and my supporting staff as they have supported me all the way along. I think it’s the right time to quit this format and I want to focus on the upcoming 2019 World Cup.”
Malik made a dramatic return to the fray in the first Test at Abu Dhabi last month. Called in to the team as a late replacement for the injured Azhar Ali, he made a career-best 245 in his first appearance since the Edgbaston Test against England in 2010.
However, his scores have fallen away since then, with scores of 0, 2, 7, 38 and 0 in his next five innings, the latest duck coming on Tuesday as he was trapped lbw first-ball by a big inswinger from James Anderson.
Malik has played his part with the ball in this match in particular. He returned his best Test figures of 4 for 33 in 9.5 overs as England were bowled out for 306 in their first innings.
At the age of 33, and having earned his recall to the Test team on the strength of his recent one-day performances, Malik’s one remaining ambition is to earn selection for the 2019 World Cup in England.
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