Recalled Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik turned up with a crucial performance with the bat in the first T20I as the hosts won by five wickets against Bangladesh in Lahore yesterday.
Malik, who starred with a 45-ball 58, heaped praise on a young Pakistan side and said his partnership with debutant opener Ahsan Ali was the turning point in the match.
The win was Pakistan’s first in their last eight T20 matches, having lost to England, Sri Lanka and Australia with their last win coming in February 2019.
Chasing a modest total of 142, Malik was ably supported by opener Ahsan, who hit 36 off 32 deliveries. The former Pakistan captain said that his responsibility in the side was to help groom the youngsters.
“Congratulations to the whole Pakistan team for this win and for hosting another match,” Malik began during the post-match press conference yesterday. “The responsibility to perform is on those who have experience but their main responsibility is how they groom the youngsters. When Ahsan was playing in the middle, he showed a lot of confidence. He accompanied me during a turning point of the match and on a pitch that was not easy for batsmen. We had lost some wickets and we needed to consolidate. That the youngsters are performing is a good sign for Pakistan cricket,” he said.
The 37-year-old, the only active international cricketer who played in the previous century, was playing his first T20I match since February last year. His dismal form in the World Cup had seen him dropped from the rest of the tournament after just three matches.
“It’s tough to be in and out of the team but I have been playing leagues and domestic cricket and that helped me stage a comeback in this match,” he reflected on his time away from the T20I side.
“I wasn’t answering anyone [with my performance]. I wanted to satisfy my own requirements and my goal is not to see who is upset with me and who is happy,” he added.