Shoaib Malik Pakistan World Cup 2018 2019 Australia ZImbabwe
Shoaib Malik Getty Images (file photo)

In an interview with The Dawn, Shoaib Malik said that friendly atmosphere and cordial relation between senior and junior players are encouraging signs for the team: “The good thing about this Pakistan team is that now players who are not even in the playing XI are expressing supportive attitude, which was not visible in the past … In the days gone by, there was also a large gulf between junior and senior team members. When I started my international career, a good number of star players were there. But now there are no such stars to speak of and there is no gap.”

Malik, now 36, stated how unlucky the next generation of Pakistan cricketers has been: “The younger players have grown up but their bad luck is that they get fewer opportunities to perform before the home crowd. Many of them have given memorable performances abroad. And had they given those performances come before the local crowd, they would become star players.”

“No junior player can emerge as a performer until he’s willing to learn from the seniors, whose job is to help the youngsters grow in stature,” he added.

As for the upcoming Zimbabwe tour, Malik commented that the Men in Green would be expected to do well in Harare as they have performed well in past provided they don’t get complacent: “Expectations are high from this tour. Pakistan have been showing consistency in their performance is a big plus point because in the past we lacked consistency … The Australians are No. 2 in the T20 world team rankings and under local conditions, Zimbabwe are not an easy side either. Therefore, we have to play very good cricket to beat both these teams.”

Reflecting on his own career, Malik expressed desire to play next year’s World Cup in England before bidding adieu to ODI cricket: “During my 19-year-old long career, Pakistan have won the ICC World T20I and the Champions Trophy. My desire before giving up 50-over cricket that Pakistan wins the World Cup because it is a dream which will come true Insha’Allah.”

Pakistan will participate in a three-day training camp at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium before leaving for Zimbabwe. The triangular series between Australia, Pakistan and Zimbabwe is slated to take place from July 1 to 8 before Pakistan lock horns with Zimbabwe in the 5-match ODI series commencing from July 13 at the Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo.