Shoaib happy to continue as opener
Shoaib Malik may well be opening in the Test series against England this summer but he doesn’t seem unduly concerned about taking on the best pace attack in the game in a still unfamiliar role.
“I have no problems with opening. Basically I want to play for Pakistan and any position I don’t really care. I have been asked to open and I am happy to do it. If I have to do it in England I will do.”
Malik was talking to Osman Samiuddin, Pakistanb editor of Cricinfo. Though his career as opener has experienced an uncertain start, there were signs, after a match-saving maiden Test hundred against Muttiah Muralitharan and others in Colombo, that he might be getting used to the role.
“I guess I am more comfortable doing it now. That century was really special and more so because it saved the Test. Muralitharan is always a test but just as bad was the heat.”
With that century, Malik now averages 42.60 (higher than his career average) from seven Tests and 11 innings as opener; the record includes two half-centuries as well, against India and the West Indies.
Malik’s promotion to Test opener was the Pakistan management’s much-debated solution to one of the oldest ailments in Pakistan cricket — the lack of a solid opening pair. Though he made his first appearance as opener against West Indies last year, he was only installed as a semi-permanent choice in the last home season.
Although he hasn’t fully recovered from elbow surgery, he has begun light training at the conditioning camp. “I haven’t started batting or bowling yet. That will have to wait another eight days or so, but my elbow is pretty much fine now.”
National selectors chief Wasim Bari told Cricinfo, “He is a very talented player and extremely versatile. And though he can switch positions in ODIs — he is also an excellent fielder and good spinner — in Tests, I feel it is more advisable to have specialist openers. I don’t know if the experiment with him will work long-term. You need specialists in that position.”
Whether Malik continues to open or not, Bari admits, is ultimately up to the captain and coach but if he doesn’t, Pakistan can still choose one combination from three left-handed openers for the series.
Source:The NewsMore on:Pakistan, Pakistan in England 2006, Shoaib Malik
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