Shoaib Malik, the veteran Pakistan batsman, has confirmed he will bow out from one-day internationals after the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, but says he will approach the tournament like he's starting out in his career.
A veteran of 282 ODIs, Malik will be expected to deliver consistently at the World Cup, which begins on 30 May in England and Wales. Malik's flexibility to bat at various positions, combined with his accurate off-spin, make him a valuable asset on paper.
Unfortunately, Malik's numbers haven't been great this year. He has scored just 197 runs from seven innings at 28.14 with a strike-rate of 82.08. Moreover, his bowling isn't essential to the team's requirements anymore – he has bowled just one over this year, in which he conceded ten runs.
These numbers have spurred some criticism of the experienced campaigner, who made his ODI debut in 1999, but Malik isn't fazed. Instead, he's solely focussed on giving a good account of himself at the World Cup.
"I don't focus on what is being said about me, but rather focus on how I can perform on consistent basis," Malik told Cricbuzz. "If I think this is my last World Cup, I wouldn't not do well. Rather, I am going to take it as if I am beginning my career."
Teams like England, India, and more recently Australia, have been touted as the strongest contenders to win World Cup 2019, but Malik is of the opinion that no side can be considered an outright favourite.
"All teams at the World Cup are strong and there will be no fluke and no team is favourite," he said. "Everyone has to struggle, and under English conditions, rainy weather may create problems for any team on a given day."
Pakistan's first World Cup match will be on 31 May against West Indies at Trent Bridge.
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