Among the best in T20 cricket

October 18, 2020

Shoaib Malik recently became the first Asian to reach 10,000 runs in the fastest version of the game

After a long break due to Covid-19, cricket activities are resuming gradually, nationally and internationally. West Indies and Pakistan toured England in July and August. Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE and National Twenty20 Cup in Pakistan are being played. The final of the T20 Cup will be played in Rawalpindi tonight.

During a 74-run knock for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against Balochistan in the T20 Cup, veteran batsman Shoaib Malik completed 10,000 T20 career runs. He is overall the third and first Asian batsman to have reached the mark. The first two are West Indies’ Chris Gayle (13,296 runs) and Kieron Pollard (10,370 runs).

Malik made his T20 debut for Sialkot Stallions way back in 2005. He has played 397 T20s in his career, and scored 10,067 runs at an average of 37.42, with 62 fifties. The only regret for him in the shortest format may be that he is yet to score a century. He also has 149 wickets, averaging 26.87, at an economy rate of 7.01.

After achieving the feat, Malik tweeted: “I would like to congratulate the people of Pakistan as I am the first Asian cricketer to have reached this milestone of making 10,000 runs in #T20 cricket & I hope I will carry on in the way I have been playing. I’d like to dedicate this milestone to my parents.”

Malik retired from 50-overs cricket at the end of the 2019 World Cup and is now only active in T20I format. Malik is one of the only two cricketers currently playing who started their careers in the 1990s. The other one is Gayle.

Malik claims that with his high fitness level, he can play 50-overs cricket even in 2023 when he will be 41.

Malik, who retired from Tests four years ago with 1898 runs in 35 matches, has said nothing about when he would quit international cricket.

Malik played 287 ODIs, and scored 7534 runs, averaging 34.55 with nine centuries and 44 fifties. He is a fine batsman of spin bowling, but his average is surprisingly low against fast bowlers. He is the only player who has batted from the first position to the 10th.

Against India, where mostly spinners dominate, Malik averaged 46.89. He scored four centuries and 11 fifties against India. His best ODI score, 143, also came against India.

But against Australia, England and New Zealand, on their soil, he averages 30.78, 13.07 and 10.44, respectively.

Malik’s selection for the 2019 World Cup raised many questions. Interestingly, he played only six World Cup matches in his 20-year career, and scored 100 runs with a low average of 16.66.

Malik’s performance has remained under par in major ICC tournaments. He averaged 16.66 and 23.75, in World Cup and Champions Trophy, respectively.

Malik has scored 2321 runs in 113 T20Is, averaging 31.36, including eight fifties. He also took 28 wickets, averaging 23.53.

Malik flourished as a batsman under the captaincy of former skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq and coach Bob Woolmer. The former had also identified Malik as a future captain. Following Woolmer’s tragic death and Inzamam’s retirement after ICC World Cup 2007, Malik was selected to lead Pakistan when Younis Khan rejected the offer.

In 33 innings as captain, mostly at No 5 and a few as an opener, Malik notched up 1,225 runs at an average of 43.75. He scored one century and 10 fifties during that period.

In domestic circuit, Malik has been a very successful captain. As skipper of Sialkot Stallions he has a record eight domestic T20 titles.

He batted at various positions from No 3 to 8 from 2009 to 2013 and in the 39 ODI innings during this period, Malik managed only 741 runs at an average of 21.17. As a result, he was dropped. However, he made a remarkable comeback in 2015 and has been a permanent member ever since.

In April this year, former captain Ramiz Raja advised Malik and Mohammad Hafeez to retire from international cricket to give chances to youngsters. Ramiz’s argument was that Pakistan had a good pool of players and must move ahead with them. He said both Malik and Hafeez had horrible World Cup campaigns in England last year. Malik scored just 8 runs in three matches: 8, 0 and 0, against England, Australia and India, respectively.

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Among the best in T20 cricket