When Shoaib Malik takes the field for Pakistan in the Twenty20 World Cup, the 39-year-old all-rounder could be forgiven for feeling his age.
When Malik made his international debut in 1999, current teammates such as pace spearheads Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Wasim Junior, and batsman Haider Ali were not even born. Vice-captain Shadab Khan was just one while skipper Babar Azam and fellow all-rounder Hasan Ali had both just turned five.
Malik, still fighting fit, played his first one-day international against the West Indies at Sharjah in October 1999. Legendary paceman Wasim Akram, who led Pakistan in Malik’s first game, retired 18 years ago.
“I remember when Malik came into the Pakistan team in 1999,” Wasim Akram told AFP.
“I picked him up, he was a 16-17 year old skinny guy and I initially picked him solely as a bowler and as a fielder and never knew that he can bat very well.”
“He (Malik) has turned out to be a life-saver for Pakistan in limited-overs cricket. Even now, when you talk about fitness, he is superb and trains so extensively,” added Wasim.
“I think young players should see him as a role model as he is still competing with them in domestic events and that shows how mentally strong he has been.
“He is looking good and that shows he wants to go on a high.”