Two days after being cleared by the integrity committee, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has now included former captain Shoaib Malik in the squad for the Zimbabwe tour.
Malik, who was earlier put on the list of standby players when the squad was announced, was cleared to play for Pakistan after satisfying the integrity committee over a certain amount in his England bank account.
‘It’s like I’m making my debut’
Malik was delighted at having his name included in the squad after being overlooked for over a year.
“I’m delighted and looking forward to putting on a good show,” said Malik who joined the team’s training camp on the final day. “I’ll give my best to play a leading role and will live up to the selectors’ expectations.”
The former captain, who last played for Pakistan in the Test series against England in 2010, said the return was like making a debut.
“It’s like a debut for me but I’m confident of doing well.”
The 29-year old added that he had a lot of cricket left in him.
(Read: Malik now available to play for Pakistan)
A good sign: Waqar
Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis also termed Malik’s return a good sign for the national team.
“His inclusion will bolster us,” said Waqar. “He has a lot of cricket left in him.”
Mohsin terms inclusion beneficial
Meanwhile, chief selector Mohsin Khan hoped that the former captain’s inclusion will strengthen the team.
“After discussions with the team management everyone agreed that his experience would be beneficial.”
Malik showed worth: Misbah
Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq also welcomed Malik’s return and said that the seasoned batsman justified his place in the team after a good show.
“Malik’s return will be a valuable addition because he’s fit and in form,” he said.
Sohail questions decision
However, former captain Aamir Sohail said that Malik has returned due to political pressure.
“The PCB has cleared him due to political pressure,” said Sohail.
“If there was no charge against him, then how did the PCB sideline him for such a long period?”
However, Sohail hoped that Malik would prove his worth.
“He’s a talented player and hopefully he’ll perform well.”
Misbah promises fitting send-off for coach
Meanwhile, Misbah has promised on giving the perfect send-off to Waqar who will step down after the series.
“He’s already told us that this series shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Misbah told reporters. “I’ve seen his passion and we have to give him a good farewell by sweeping the series so that when he departs he can realise that his team has done wonders under him.” (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY UMAR FAROOQ)
“Malik’s name was already in the reserve list of players for the tour and the PCB integrity committee cleared him last week. After discussions with the team management everyone agreed that his experience would be beneficial.”
“The PCB has cleared him due to political pressure. If there was no charge against him, then how did the PCB sideline him for such a long period? But he’s a talented player and hopefully he’ll perform well.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2011.