Monday evening saw Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik drop in at HT House for a webchat on hindustantimes.com. Malik connected with his legion of fans and gave an insight into why leading Pakistan is a complex job.
Excerpts from the chat:
Do you feel let down that India beat you in India after 24 years?
Yes, we are disappointed. But one team has to win, and now we’re looking forward to the Tests.
What do you most look forward to when touring India?
We are always overwhelmed by the amount of love Indian crowds show. Jab bhi baahar jaatey hain, log milne aatey hain, bahut achcha lagta hai.
How do you justify the exclusion of Shahid Afridi from the Test squad?
It was a decision taken by the selectors, and he has gone home to regain form in first-class games. We would need him against Australia.
Didn’t Pakistan chop and change a little too much during this series?
We had to try out different opening combinations because a big opening stand is vital. But now, Inshallah, we’ve zeroed in on the two openers we have.
You must have been pleased after winning the Jaipur ODI almost single-handedly.
Of course! I was in form earlier too, but I had been making small mistakes. Before Jaipur, I decided I’d play until the 40th over. Saath main Yousuf bhai thhey, unki badi help rahi... Unhone rok ke rakha, mera bada dil kar raha thha maarne ka!
Is it true you have had a couple of offers from Bollywood?
Yes, there have been offers. Par main faith aur destiny mein believe karta hoon. Woh jis taraf le jaaye, main chala jaaunga! Agar offers sahi hai toh dekhenge!
What is the real Shoaib Malik like?
I’m very jolly... lagta nahin, par hoon... Team mein mujhe Ustaad-ji kehte hein... I did a few ads in Pakistan, and this name was used in them.
How tough is it to captain a mercurial side like Pakistan?
Well, ek fayada to hai. You learn patience, and that helps in life as well. Main na TV dekhta hoon, na paper padta hoon... I just talk to my mother.
Why does Pakistan continue with inconsistent seniors?
Well, only seniors can handle the pressure of an Indo-Pak series. We need to stick with the tested because the next lot of players is not so good.
What do you think of Geoff Lawson as coach?
A foreign coach is neutral, and Lawson is a great coach, nihayat hi shareef insaan hain... After the T20 final loss, the way he was crying, it is clear Lawson feels for this team.
Who has been the captain you’ve considered most influential personally?
It has to be Wasim Akram, under whom I debuted. He was a complete cricketer, and I admire him.
How is the new breed of Pak players?
When I started out in 1995, school cricket was very good, but now things have changed. School, college cricket are doing badly now.
The Ferozeshah Kotla, the venue of the first Test, has changed completely…
It’s totally different from what it was when I last came here! Bilkul badal gaya hai, bahut badhiya lag raha hai! Pitch bhi theek lag rahi hai! Aisi hi rahey toh achcha rahega. Looks likely it’ll help the fast bowlers, and that would suit us!