Veteran Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik has set himself a target of playing at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England and Wales.
Malik, who has made 266 ODI appearances, has already confirmed that next year’s Cricket World Cup will be his last for Pakistan.
Of his 266 ODI caps, only three have come at the CWC, way back in 2007, as he missed out on selection for the 2003, 2011 and 2015 editions. He has returned to Pakistan’s ODI set-up since, though, and was a part of their ICC Champions Trophy-winning side in 2017.
While Malik is understandably keen to go out with a bang in ODI cricket at the World Cup, he has not ruled out retirement should he feel his body can’t cope with the travails of international cricket.
“I have said this before on many occasions that the 2019 50-over World Cup will be my last World Cup,” he said after a training session for Pakistan ahead of the 2018 Asia Cup.
“My goal is also to play World T20 and end my T20 career after that but that depends on my fitness and will be based on discussions with the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board), as I believe honesty is important as a cricketer. If you feel that another player can come in place of you and play better, then he should be given a chance.
“My goal is to play these two World Cups but it will depend on my fitness and if I feel that the time has come to take retirement, I will definitely take that option.”
Pakistan and India will meet again at Old Trafford during next year’s World Cup, but before then will face off in the Asia Cup. Malik, 36, has been involved in many Pakistan-India games over the years, including last year’s Champions Trophy final, so is used to the pressure they bring.
"No doubt, the matches between Pakistan and India are always thrilling and nerve-wrecking as they are being watched by millions of cricketers across the globe and in such circumstances, if a player takes extra pressure, it is obvious that he cannot give his best performance,” added Malik.
"It is a hard fact that Pakistan-India matches take place after a long gap, which makes such ties very important and the match winning team's top performer gains the status of heroes.”