Shoaib Malik (born 1 February 1982 in Sialkot) is a Pakistani cricket player. He made his One-Day International debut in 1999 against the West Indies and his Test debut in 2001 against Bangladesh.
Malik was ranked second, behind teammate Shahid Afridi, in the ICC ODI all-rounder rankings in June 2008.
He started his career as just an off spinner, and is now regarded as a useful bowling all-rounder with a batting average in the mid 30s in both Test and ODI cricket.
Malik is regarded as a flexible player. He is capable of hitting big shots but is also capable of rotating the strike with good placement. He has a strike rate of 77.23 runs per 100 balls, which compares favorably to players such as Rahul Dravid and Inzamam ul-Haq. His most brazen display of “power hitting” came in 2003 against South Africa when he scored 82 from 41 balls. As is required of most modern players he also has displayed good defensive batting at times. He has taken over 100 ODI wickets at an average under 35 and economy rate below 4.5. His bowling action has come under scrutiny (particularly his doosra) but he has had elbow surgery to correct this.
In Tests, he has a better batting average against Sri Lanka and South Africa than other nations. In ODIs he has a better batting average against India, South Africa, and the West Indies than his overall career average. During his Test career, Malik has batted at 5 different positions and he has the unusual record of batting at every position except 11th in ODIs. Pakistan’s problems in finding a reliable opening pair have led to Malik being used as an opener in Test and ODI matches.
Following Inzamam-ul-Haq’s resignation as Pakistan captain after the 2007 World Cup, Shoaib Malik was put forward as one of the names for the captaincy along with Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf. After Younus Khan’s rejection, Malik was the popular choice as a younger captain and was seen to represent a fresh start after the Inzamam era.
Former skipper Imran Khan, who led the team to World Cup glory, backed Malik for the role, stating, “He appears to have a good cricket brain and could turn out to be a very good choice for Pakistan cricket.”
Malik was appointed Captain on 19 April 2007 by the Pakistan Cricket Board, his experience considering his relatively young age and consistent performances are cited as other reasons for his appointment. His vice-captain was initially Mohammad Asif, followed by Salman Butt, although Younus Khan was recently appointed his deputy when Butt was dropped from the team.
In Malik’s first series as captain, Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 2-1 in an ODI series in Abu Dhabi. His next assignments were home Test and ODI series against South Africa which Pakistan lost 1-0 and 3-2 respectively. 3-2 was the score in favour of India when Pakistan subsequently played an ODI series against their arch-rivals. Malik hit 89 and took three wickets in the final match, which Pakistan won by 31 runs.
Younis Khan took over as captain on 27 January 2009.
In 2010, Malik was given a one-year ban from the national team by the PCB, who charged him with causing infighting within the team.
In Test cricket he made a big impression with his match-saving innings against Sri Lanka, in which he batted for the whole day and finished with 148 runs not out. His bowling has been effective at times, especially in one-day cricket where his best bowling figures are four wickets for 19 runs (4/19) in addition to many 3-wicket hauls.