Australia v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Hobart January 17, 2010

Shoaib Malik hits back on Test return

Ricky Ponting expressed his surprise before this Test that Shoaib Malik wasn't in Pakistan's side, though that in itself would have shocked a lot of people in Pakistan. Malik's place in the squad has been the subject of much discussion after he was dropped in New Zealand after two failures.

But continuing misses from Misbah-ul-Haq and Faisal Iqbal allowed Malik to come back and a patient 58 and a poor dismissal meant both Ponting and his critics at home can claim victory. "I was struggling a little in Tests," Malik said after the third day. "In Sri Lanka last year I hit a hundred but then played two Tests in New Zealand where I didn't score. I practiced a lot after that, talked to [Mohammad] Yousuf about batting because he is the best batsman in the side.

"I could've scored a little more [in Hobart] as well and probably waited more. But if we had batted a little longer it would've been better. It's good to score after a while and it's given me a bit more confidence now. Australia and New Zealand have similar wickets and it was just that my confidence was a little down earlier."

One of the reasons why Malik's Test spot is always under scrutiny is because he doesn't have a set place in the order. He has opened and batted in a few positions in the middle order, acknowledging it hasn't helped him in his career. "In Tests, ODIs and T20s I have played everywhere and you have to be flexible," Malik said. "I don't have a favourite position as such. I am more comfortable in the middle order.

"Before I used to say you can put me anywhere and maybe that didn't help. But whenever I can score runs in three to four innings I will come back in to good form."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo