Javed Miandad, Rashid Latif, Aqib Javed, and Mushtaq Mohammad are some of the many former players and cricket related personalities that criticized Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik after Pakistan lost the ODI series to India. They were quick to jump on him openly stating that he lacked the skill to be captain, didn't deserve to be in the team, isn't confident of himself, and does not have the backing of the team.
Today, with an 82 ball 89 coupled with 3 crucial wickets, Malik baked some delicious humble pie for all these men. Not only did he lead from the front with bat and ball, but he also ensured that Pakistan go into the test series with confidence after a thumping win against the Indians. In my preview earlier today, I said that Pakistan's bowling looked thin without the 6th bowler and India would probably easily chase any total - I'm glad that it was skipper Malik who proved me wrong.
Today Malik took the field without the vice-captain Younis Khan, the motivator Shahid Afridi, and senior player Mohammad Yousuf (who conveniently rested after his 74). Yet he proved that he has it in him to lead from the front. The commentators went on about how the Pakistanis were fielding fresher legs and looked a better fielding unit - have these guys forgotten that Younis and Afridi are probably the best fielders of the side?
Pakistan played like a unit today and were marshalled extremely well by Malik. As I mentioned in my preview; give the boy some time, he will learn. Malik hasn't even been in the job for a year and people are gunning for his neck - ever heard of something called patience? You can't expect the boy to deliver results in a matter of days. Pakistan needs to learn how to persist.
The test matches start in 5 days and I'll cover my thoughts on them in the next few days. For now I hope everyone enjoys the humble pie baked by Shoaib Malik.