Veteran Pakistan batsman Shoaib Malik and India’s tennis star Sania Mirza are all set to experience the wonderful feeling of becoming parents in October.
Malik, who is currently with the Pakistan cricket team in Zimbabwe, revealed how he is preparing to play the role of a father. The 36-year-old seemed pretty excited and displayed the same well-rounded approach when it came to this new chapter of his life.
In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Malik said: “It’s yet to sink in, but this is a special time for us before our child arrives. Things are already looking good. There are about four months left for the pregnancy, so Sania and I are spending a lot of time together, which was not possible earlier due to our professional commitments.”
“I am using this time to prepare myself by reading books, talking to my friends who have been parenting for a while and even watching videos on YouTube. Having said that, I’m not at all worried about it because I know parenting comes naturally to Sania. I can see it already because her part and journey as a mother started a few months ago,” he added.
Parenting is certainly a life-changing phase especially for the professional sportsman as it involves travelling. When asked if he considered curtailing his international career, Malik stated: “Professional athletes who represent their country at the highest level have a certain lifestyle: being away from home and family, loads of travelling and continuous training. All this is time-consuming. But it would be unfair to the child if their parents can’t give them their time. I retired from my favourite format (Test) about two years ago, and one of the reasons was to spend more time with my family. I am planning to retire from the one-day format next year after the World Cup, which will allow me to be around my child, who will be around nine months or so then. I plan to play International Cricket until 2020, let’s see.”
Shoaib and Sania have taken a progressive stand when it comes to naming their future child with both the mother and the father’s surname.
Talking about this noble idea, Malik said: “We discussed this in the beginning and we both came up with it together. It’s not a move, but a statement. My family history and my family name comes with a lot of honour, which I celebrate with pride. It should be the same for Sania. Being a husband or a wife or a mother or a father should not change that for either. Having a shared surname is in line with how we went about when we got married: Sania Mirza remained Sania Mirza and was not changed to Sania Malik.”
Given that Shoaib and Sania hail from the rival nations, the couple often becomes the talk of the town when tension between India and Pakistan arises. Their union also resulted in a backlash back in 2010.
“Backlash? Actually no, our families were supportive from day one and I got the exact same love from the people and even the officials of both the countries. Yes, there were a few people talking but there will always be a few. But we also know how to ensure that the negativity does not spoil the joy and we have learnt that through our years in professional sports. We have become stronger over the years as a couple,” Malik asserted.
Sania has been a given a lot of credit for Malik’s second wind in his international cricket career. On being asked if she was that proverbial wind beneath his wings, Shoaib said: “You think if I was not in form, then Sania would marry me? See, the beauty of our marriage, unlike most or all other athletes, is that we are both professional athletes. We know what backing yourself and backing your partner means.”
“When Sania was confused about her career in the single’s world, we talked about it and came up with a plan. When I was out of the International side for a while, again we discussed the objectives and had a plan. Sania’s support — whether it was her coming to watch the match or motivating me on the bad days — is immense. She’s the pillar of my strength,” he concluded.