Shoaib Malik should be considered the father time of cricket. He is the only men’s cricketer to still be playing active international cricket from the 90s, having made his debut in 1999 in an ODI against West Indies in Sharjah. He has batted at the top and he has also batted as a tail-ender, having batted at No.10 on his debut and moving up the ranks to become a dependable batsman for Pakistan. He has been part of several epic moments in Pakistan history, winning the 2009 World T20 and also the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy both held in England. Malik is only India’s son-in-law, marrying tennis sensation Sania Mirza.
As is the case with majority of Pakistan’s players, they reserved their best for India and Malik was no exception. In 41 games, he smashed 1782 runs at an average of 48, smashing 11 fifties and four centuries. Even with the ball, Malik reserved his best for India as he took 22 wickets against them. His first century came in 2004 at Colombo when he smashed 143 to give Pakistan a big win but it was his 128 in the 2009 Champions Trophy which played a big part in India getting knocked out in the league stages. As captain, Malik gave Pakistan some stability but he had to endure heartbreak when his side lost the 2007 World T20 final by five runs against India.
However, with the passage of time, Malik’s consistency and form dipped. In 2014, Malik was reluctant to make himself available for national selection for the World Cup due to his bowling action and the prevailing environment in the team. The all-rounder's reluctance reportedly stemmed primarily over the treatment he had received from the board and selectors in recent times and secondly over apprehensions of his bowling action being reported. The year 2014 was a tough time for offspinners with the ICC cracking down hard on the likes of Sunil Narine and Saeed Ajmal.
After a gap in 2014, Malik returned to action in 2015 and slammed 607 runs in 15 ODIs at a brilliant average of 67.4. His form continued in when he hit 516 runs at an average of 57.33. His wonderful ODI form resulted in a call-up to the Test level for the first time in five years during the 2015 series against England. In the first Test in Abu Dhabi, Malik stunned the cricketing world with a fabulous 245 and in the Test against Sharjah, he picked up 4/33 in 9.5 overs as Pakistan secured a 2-0 series win. However, his retirement after the end of the match surprised many players.
On September 2017, Malik became the highest run–scorer in T20I for Pakistan. On 1 July 2018, Malik also became the first Asian batsman to score 2,000 runs in T20Is. Malik became the third player to play 100 T20Is in the world. On April 12, 2010, Malik married tennis sensation Sania Mirza which was held in Hyderabad.
Malik has achieved plenty of highs in his career followed by some lows. However, as he enters his 20th year as an international cricketer and one from the 90s, Malik represents the symbol of longevity. Here is wishing Shoaib Malik a happy 37th birthday.