February 01, 1982, Sialkot, Punjab
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
There is almost no role in a cricket side that Shoaib Malik hasn't filled, so much so that over ten years into his career, nobody is sure what his precise and best role is.
In essence, he is a batting allrounder, though he started his career as an off-break bowler. Partly the problem is that he is capable, as a batsman, of fulfilling many roles with some competence. He has had success as an opener in Tests and ODIs; he has been game-changing as a limited-overs one down and dangerous as a lower-order slogger; often he has been a stodgy middle-order bulwark. In Twenty20s, he can be brutal anywhere.
It is thus difficult to recall a definitive Malik high; was it his maiden Test hundred as an opener against Sri Lanka in Colombo? A few hands that led to an ODI series win against India in 2005-06? A Champions Trophy hundred against India?
His basic game is tight, especially in the subcontinent. He isn't pretty, though there can be pleasantness in his high, stiff-elbowed drives and lofts. Square on both sides he is precise. Further, he runs well. With his flattish, very modern off-spin always useful for more than a few overs and a wicket here and there - less so after concerns over his action - and an athletic and languid presence in the field, Malik should be far greater a sum of his parts than he actually is.
He was for long earmarked as a potential captain - the late Bob Woolmer thought him the sharpest tack in Pakistan's set-up - but a stint with the captaincy was troubled, unimaginative and ended badly. It got even worse when the board banned him for a year in March 2010 as part of its unprecedented action on senior players after a disastrous tour of Australia.
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