Pakistan's Malik glad of 'anti-Aussie' support
Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has said the support for his team in the series against Australia has come as no surprise, saying even England fans like to see Ricky Ponting's team beaten.cricket Updated: Jul 20, 2010 20:02 IST
Former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has said the support for his team in the series against Australia has come as no surprise, saying even England fans like to see Ricky Ponting's team beaten.
Pakistan were cheered on to victory in two back-to-back Twenty20 victories over Australia at Edgbaston this month by raucous fans and also attracted good support at a more sedate Lord's for last week's 150-run first Test loss.
Now they are hoping Pakistan fans in the Leeds area, which boasts one of Britain's largest Asian populations, will turn out for the second and final Test against Australia which starts at Headingley on Wednesday.
"It's not a surprise to get so much support like we did in the two Twenty20 matches and at Lord's," Malik said at a reception hosted by the Pakistani community in nearby Bradford, north-west of Leeds. "Even the England supporters love to see Australia beaten."
Pakistan were forced to play this 'home' series in England because of security concerns in Pakistan where international cricket was halted following an armed assault on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in March last year.
The attack, which left eight people dead besides injuring seven Sri Lankan players and their assistant coach, ended all hopes of Pakistan staging any international matches in the foreseeable future.
Since then, Pakistan has played home series in New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates.
But Malik said England was an ideal "home away from home" for Pakistan.
"Considering the situation (in Pakistan) we have an ideal home in England where the conditions are excellent and the support is overwhelming. It would be ideal to play at home, but England can become our second home.
"We expect the same support at Leeds because there is a big Pakistani community living here and in the adjoining cities."
Malik, 28, was not a member of the Pakistan team that lost at Lord's but he is set to play at Headingley.
He is line to replace Shahid Afridi who led Pakistan at Lord's but then announced his retirement from Test cricket minutes after the heavy defeat.
Malik said he was confident of staging a comeback in the Test team. "I have not played a Test for a while now, but I am eager to get back and avail the chance I get at Leeds," said Malik, who hit a fifty in his last Test against Australia at Hobart in January.
In March, he was among the seven top players who were banned and fined for disciplinary reasons by the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Malik was fined two million rupees (24,000 dollars) and banned for one year, sanctions overturned by an arbitrator on appeal.
While serving the ban, Malik married Indian tennis star Sania Mirza in April.
Malik, sacked as captain in January last year, has so far played 29 Tests, 192 one-day and 32 Twenty internationals for Pakistan.