Pakistan veteran cricketer Shoaib Malik has announced that he will retire from ODI cricket after the World Cup 2019. The 36-year-old will still continue to play T20I cricket for Pakistan, depending on his fitness.
In a press conference at Lahore ahead of Pakistan's tour of Zimbabwe for a tri-nation T20 series (including Australia), Malik said, "The 2019 World Cup is my last event of the 50-over cricket. I will try to play T20 cricket if I continue to stay fit and put up performances."
Malik made his ODI debut for Pakistan way back in 1999 against Windies in Sharjah. He scored 6975 runs since then, in 261 ODIs, with an average of 35.22 including nine tons and 41 fifties. The partnership breaker has 154 ODIs wickets as well.
The Pakistan cricketer, who led Pakistan in 56 matches across all formats with 36 wins and 18 loss, said his goal is set and he wants to lift the 50-over Trophy.
"If you have made goals for yourself that keeps you running," said Malik. "I have made some for myself. We have already won two big events: the World T20 [in 2009] and the Champions Trophy [in 2017]. The only thing left in my career [to win] is that 50-over World Cup. That is the thing I am looking at which makes me work hard. I have big hopes from these youngsters and myself. We are going to give our best."
Malik played 35 Test matches and scored 1898 runs. He retired from the format in 2015 and said fitness is key to continue playing the longer format.
"You enjoy Test cricket till the time you are fit. Sometimes you have to take strong decisions. Many people take them keeping their future in mind. But, I tried to take it keeping the future of Pakistan cricket in my mind.
"Of course, I also thought about myself while announcing the retirement. I had to give time to my family and prolong my cricketing career. I have no regret that I made that decision. It came out in public like I took it overnight. That gap of five years in which I did not play a Test was a huge one. And, my retirement provided two-three youngsters an opportunity to play Test cricket. Now they are performing for the side on consistent basis. One can also serve your nation by retiring."
Pakistan will be facing Zimbabwe and Australia in a tri-series starting from July 1. Under Sarfraz Ahmed's captaincy, they have not lost a single T20I series.
"Pakistan has put up performances on consistent basis in the recent past which we previously lacked," said the 36-year-old. "People now have hopes from us to win big events. This is a good sign. This represents that our team and structure are on the right track. These youngsters are great. What really is outstanding that those outside of the playing XI pray for the ones who are playing. It is a great keeping our culture in mind.
"You learn from playing a match, regardless of its nature or your experience. Even in a club match you learn the things that you normally don't during practice. The team has gotten better in the shorter format because it is playing more and more matches."
Pakistan recalled Mohammad Hafeez to their Twenty20 and one-day squads for the tour of Zimbabwe after the all-rounder's bowling action was cleared last month. The men in green will play 5-ODI matches against Zimbabwe, starting from July 13.
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sahibzada Farhan.
Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Imam ul Haq, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Baber Azam (subject to fitn6ess), Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan Shinwari, Yasir Shah, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail.