Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has hinted that the veteran batsman Shoaib Malik will play against India in Manchester on June 16 despite the batsman’s paltry record in England and poor returns in two innings in the tournament so far.
"Shoaib Malik is our senior player and I am sure a good innings from him is just around the corner, hopefully in the India game," Sarfaraz wrote in his column after the defeat against Australia in Taunton.
The veteran batsman’s performance has been under the scrutiny since he was selected in the squad ahead of Abid Ali and Mohammad Rizwan, the two batsmen and reserve wicket-keepers.
In 27 innings in ODIs in the United Kingdom, Malik has only one score in excess of 50 which was in a dead-rubber game against England in Cardiff in 2016. His ODI average in the UK has fallen to 13.57, the lowest for any frontline batsman in history who has played at least 20 innings.
Malik was dropped from the tournament opener against West Indies but made a return in the second game against England in Nottingham where he scored just 8 runs and took one wicket for 10 runs. He followed it with a duck against Australia in Pakistan’s pursuit of 308 in Taunton which has brought his average in 2019 down to 22.72.
Pakistan have often considered Malik because of his good record against India and that will play in their minds ahead of the marquee clash at the Old Trafford. Malik averages 48.16 against India and has scored 4 centuries but that average since 2010 has come down to 33.37 with only one 50-plus score in 9 innings against the arch-rivals.
Surprisingly, Haris Sohail who scored two centuries against Australia in the UAE this year and has scored 368 runs at an average of 52.57 in 2019 was not considered when Pakistan looked to strengthen the batting after a poor show in their first match against West Indies.
After the batting collapse in Nottingham where the team was bundled out for 105, Pakistan decided to bring Malik in the XI at the expense of a bowler.
The left-arm spinner Imad Wasim was dropped for Malik against England whereas the leg-spinner Shadab Khan was left out against Australia, a decision that has been criticized by the former cricketers.
“First of all, I totally disagree with the team selection today. How can you drop Shadab,” said Wasim Akram, the former Pakistan captain, during the match against Australia.
“It is like Australians, the mighty Australians dropping Shane Warne. Shadab is your main bowler, he can get you wickets in middle overs. It wasn’t a good decision to drop him,” Wasim said.
Pakistan will take on India on Sunday and will be looking for their maiden World Cup win against the arch-rivals. India have won each of the six games against Pakistan in the tournament history, the most recent being in Adelaide in 2015.