Pakistan’s match against Sri Lanka is important for both the teams. As this match has taken the status of quarterfinal, the one who will succeed, will move to the semifinal. Pakistan lost their match against rivals India whereas Sri Lanka defeated India to remain in the Champions Trophy. It will be their fourth meeting in the Champions Trophy. Pakistan hold the upper hand in Champions Trophy records against Sri Lanka with 2 wins and 1 lost.
Beside, this match is a milestone for Pakistan’s former captain Shoaib Malik. He is going to play his 250th One Day International for Pakistan and will become the 10th Pakistani to do so. He made his debut against West Indies in 1999. Shoaib Malik has appeared in 249 ODI matches, and scored 6742 runs with nine centuries and 39 fifties. The all-rounder has also picked up 153 wickets with best bowling figures of 4/19. He is the senior most and experienced player in the team. He will definitely have to play his role in coping up with the pressure of this important match. Malik is the only player in the tournament to have made his One Day International debut in the last millennium. So, this couldn’t be wrong if we say he is the senior most among all the players featuring in this edition of Champions Trophy. He started his career as a off-spinner and was expected to take Saqlain Mushtaq’s role. But he turned himself into a hard hitting batsman. He eventually became a top order batsman who could bowl too. Malik has batted at all positions from 1 to 10 for Pakistan in all three formats. He was reported for suspected action in 2004 but cleared this action eight months later. He also led his country in 3 Tests, 36 ODIs and 17 T20 Internationals between 2007 and 2009. Malik was ranked second in the ICC ODI all-rounder rankings in 2008. In March 2010, Malik received a one year ban from international cricket from the Pakistan Cricket Board. This ban was lifted two months later. After losing his captaincy, very next year he married Indian tennis star Sania Mirza in April 2010. On November 3, 2015 he announced his retirement from Test cricket and said that he wants to focus on One Day and T20 and he wishes to play in the 2019 World Cup. Malik is a flexible player. He always bats according to situation, he can be a attacker and defensive player. He can hit big shots and can rotate the strike. His highest score in One Day Internationals is against India that is 143 in Asia Cup 2004.
Sania Mirza has reached Cardiff to watch the match live and to support her husband. On Shoaib Malik’s 250th ODI game, his wife praised him: ‘’It shows his commitment to Pakistan and to cricket. I have always known him as someone with full of passion for playing and for representing his country. It’s a proud moment for all of us, for his mother, for his brother and sisters and for myself too. We are very proud of him of everything he has achieved.’’
Shoaib Malik is featuring in his sixth consecutive Champions Trophy – the most for any player currently in the game. Only eight other players have played in six Champions Trophy tournaments: Rahul Dravid, Daniel Vettori, Ricky Ponting, Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis.
Shoaib Malik wants to make his 250th One Day International memorable. He has been key to Pakistan batting since making his comeback in 2015 and would be Pakistan’s key player against Sri Lanka. While addressing to media he said: ‘’To be honest, I didn’t know about the milestone. I am always committed to the team’s cause and if that is a milestone for me definitely I would like to make it memorable. It’s always important you do well for the team in all the matches. As a senior player you are always committed to contribute and do well and that’s my aim whether it’s a milestone or not. Ever since I staged a comeback in the team I have been doing well and that’s a great satisfaction.”
He further added: “Now my role is different and I am given the task to finish the game at number five so I am ready to do what the captain and coach wants me to do.”
Shoaib Malik is in line to make his 18th appearance in the Champions Trophy, only four players have featured in more games in the competition – Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Sanath Jayasuriya and Rahul Dravid. Along with that he needed 75 runs to touch 1,000 run mark against Sri Lanka in ODIs. He will become the 11th Pakistani to achieve this milestone. He never scored a century against Sri Lanka in One Day Internationals. Will he able to score a century today? For this we have to wait for few hours.
The match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will be played at the Cardiff Wales Stadium at 02:30 PM (PST).