Pakistan faced a disappointing loss in the final of the Asia Cup 2022, enduring a stunning batting collapse in the 171-run chase in Dubai. Only three batters could score in double figures in the Pakistan batting lineup, as the side was bowled out on 147 in the chase. This loss prompted many strong reactions from the Pakistan cricket fraternity as one of the side’s major concerns was exposed again – a lack of a dominant middle-order. Consequently, the spotlight turned to batters who were not part of the team for the Asia Cup – Shan Masood and Shoaib Malik. The latter’s name, in particular, was discussed at length because of his enormous experience in the game.
Pakistan had played only one T20I this year prior to the Asia Cup in September, and in the side’s last T20I series in 2021, Shoaib Malik had been the part of the side. Hence, his exclusion from the squad drew significant eyeballs. Now, a six-month old video of the 40-year-old Pakistan star’s interview with Cricket Pakistan is doing the rounds on the social media, made some chilling revelations over his conversations with captain Babar Azam with regards to the Asia Cup selection.
“Yes, I talked to Babar. He asked me if I wanted to retire when we were at the (T20) World Cup (2021). See, there should be a transparent conversation on these things, everyone should know what I want. I’ve played for so many years, I think I deserve that much. There must be some clarity on what the board wants and what the player wants,” Malik said in the video on whether he had a conversation with the Pakistan skipper.
“So, Babar asked me that. I told him, ‘Babar, considering the environment right now and whatever happened with me during the recent past, I don’t want to play. If you want an answer on my fitness or whether I could be a burden on team, there’s nothing like that. You know my fitness. If you want me to play, though, I will be available for Pakistan.”
Malik then revealed that both mutually agreed on Babar making the final call to play the veteran Pakistan batter on selective series or matches. “(I said), ‘if you want me to play selected matches or series, I want you to communicate that to me. If you think I can play longer, I am available’. He said ‘okay, you play. I will let you know which series you will play’. We talked about this during the World Cup right before we had the series against Bangladesh. Before the Windies series, he said he wanted to test some new guys, so he rested me.
“Before the one-off Australia T20I, he told me that I will tell you. I told Babar, ‘if you think I’m not needed anymore, you can tell me. I understand that there are new players coming up. I will be happy to step aside’.”
Malik also showed his disappointment at former Pakistan cricketers not getting the “deserved” respect after their retirement.
“In recent past, there have been many legends in our country who didn’t receive the send-off they deserved. Every cricketer wants that. Mohammad Hafeez retired recently, and we could have showed a small gesture in way of a trophy or a souvenir to him during the PSL to thank him for his services,” Malik said.