Malik backs Sarfraz to lead Pakistan at 2019 World Cup

Published February 18, 2018
SHOAIB Malik ... denies any rift in Pakistan team
SHOAIB Malik ... denies any rift in Pakistan team

KARACHI: Former captain Shoaib Malik on Saturday said he has great respect for skipper Sarfraz Ahmed because of his fighting qualities and he should be given a longer run as captain until next year’s World Cup in England.

“Sarfraz has all the ingredients to lead the team and it will be a wise decision to name him skipper till 2019 World Cup,” Malik told Dawn in an exclusive interview with Dawn at a grand launch function of La Casa 1 of Hussain Marketing for which he and his tennis star wife Sania Mirza are the brand ambassadors.

Just after inaugurating the project, Malik left for Dubai to lead Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) which opens in United Arab Emirates on February 22.“Sarfraz is a fighter to the core and the team has jelled well under his leadership after the Champions Trophy triumph last year in England,” he remarked.

He categorically denied any rift or differences with Sarfraz or any dissension in the team.

Yes I also hear these rumours of a rift between the players after we lost 5-0 against the Black Caps in the One-day series, but these reports are completely wrong,” said Malik. “This has become a trend in the media that whenever the team loses a series, these rumors surface which have negative impacts on the morale of the team.”

Malik, who had a lean patch during the series, scoring merely 49 runs in the four ODIs, said like the millions of Pakistan team followers, he too was deeply disappointed with his and team’s showing.

However, he said, he was looking forward to play his last World Cup in England. “I want to represent Pakistan in the World Cup before ending my career,” the 36-year-old Malik said.

Malik, who has so far represented Pakistan in 35 Tests, 261 ODIs and 92 Twenty20 Internationals, said he retired from Test cricket two years ago to prolong his career in limited overs cricket and wanted to concentrate on the shorter formats.

Recalling the nasty incident in the fourth ODI at Hamilton when a throw from the outfield by a Kiwi player hit him with full force on the back of head , he said it was indeed scary. “Fortunately there was not internal bleeding. Otherwise it could have been dangerous. But thanks to Allah, I survived and have recovered fully from that blow,” he said.He said the current Pakistan team comprises mostly young guns and they are learning from their mistakes to improve their game.

“Players like Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Hassan Ali, Shadab Khan, Rumman Raees and Faheem Ashraf are a bunch of very talented and enthusiastis cricketers,” he said.

“If they keep working hard, they have the abilities to become match-winners.”

Commenting on the upcoming third edition of the PSL, he said, like the first two edition, nit will also be very competitive, exciting and thrilling.

He added that the addition of Multan Sultans will bring more flavour and competitiveness to the league.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018

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