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Shoaib Malik announces retirement from Tests

Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan allrounder and former captain, has announced that the current Test match against England at Sharjah will be his last

Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan allrounder and former captain, has announced that the current Test match against England at Sharjah will be his last.
In a shock announcement at the close of the third day's play, an emotional Malik, 33, said that the "time was right" to move on, only three matches after his five-year exile from the Test team had come to an end.
His decision came out of blue as he arrived at the end-of-day press conference with a piece of paper in his hand. The team's assistant manager informed the media that, before taking questions, "Shoaib want to say something".
His team-mates were also caught unawares. Mohammad Hafeez, talking to the host broadcaster outside the team dressing-room, was shocked when asked to give his reaction and Mushtaq Ahmed, Pakistan's spin bowling coach, was also taken by surprise.
"I am taking retirement from Test cricket and this is my last Test," Malik said in his statement. "I would like to thank my family, cricket board, my team-mates and my supporting staff as they have supported me all the way along. I think it's the right time to quit this format and I want to focus on the upcoming 2019 World Cup."
Malik made a dramatic return to the fray in the first Test at Abu Dhabi last month. Called in to the team as a late replacement for the injured Azhar Ali, he made a career-best 245 in his first appearance since the Edgbaston Test against England in 2010.
However, his scores have fallen away since then, with scores of 0, 2, 7, 38 and 0 in his next five innings, the latest duck coming on Tuesday as he was trapped lbw first-ball by a big inswinger from James Anderson.
Malik has played his part with the ball in this match in particular. He returned his best Test figures of 4 for 33 in 9.5 overs as England were bowled out for 306 in their first innings.
At the age of 33, and having earned his recall to the Test team on the strength of his recent one-day performances, Malik's one remaining ambition is to earn selection for the 2019 World Cup in England.
His only previous experience of the tournament came way back in 2007, when he made one half-century in three appearances in Jamaica as Pakistan were eliminated at the group stages following defeats against Ireland and West Indies.
"Cricket is my passion, has always been, and I might keep on playing first-class cricket, but the main reasons I am retiring are because of my family, and to allow youngsters [in the Test team] to be groomed.
"Now is the time, amid the settled line-up, we can easily fit them in without any hitch. Since I haven't played many 50-overs World Cups, I want to play [in England] and I am looking ahead to get ready by quitting Test cricket so I can save my energy."
Malik's first stint in the Pakistan team included 32 Tests between 2001 and 2010, in which time he may never have been a consistent selection but was nevertheless named as captain across all formats in 2007, including three Tests against South Africa and India in October and November that year.
However, he was sacked as captain in 2009 with Younis Khan taking over. He returned to domestic cricket and scored 799 runs at 88.77, including four hundreds, in six matches, making him the second-highest run-getter in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Division One season.
However, he faded away from the international scene following the controversial tour of England the following summer, in the wake of which the PCB launched an integrity inquiry. Though Malik was subsequently cleared by the board, he was nevertheless omitted from the squad for the 2011 World Cup.
"I am disappointed that I didn't play Test cricket in the last five years and those were the years I wanted to play," he said. "But that is part of life and you move on. Now I can see many youngsters knocking at the door and it's the best time to allow them to get adjusted."
Malik has scored 1898 runs at 35.14, including three hundreds, in 35 Test appearances, to go with 29 wickets at 51.48 with his offspin.
"It was tough to take a call as I could have played for another two years," he said. "But Test cricket is probably the toughest format, and we have a settled line-up.
"Representing Pakistan is a biggest honour but I have been thinking about [retirement] for a while. It was somewhere in my mind even before the double hundred [in Abu Dhabi] but, at the moment, my satisfaction is to walk away from this format. My fitness is fine but I think we have to step aside to allow youngsters to take over."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson