The news that tennis sensation Sania Mirza is to wed former Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik, has surprised not just fans, but also the couple’s close friends. Mirza and Malik, who are set to get engaged in Hyderabad on April 7, followed by nikah on April 15 and reception in Lahore on April 16, managed to keep their affair a closely guarded secret. Actress Rakshanda Khan, who was by Sania’s side all through her earlier engagement to ‘childhood friend’ Sohrab Mirza, expressed utter shock and told HT City, "I had no clue. Sania didn’t even speak to me about this."
Javed Miandad, President of Pakistan Cricket Board, who is known to be close to Malik said, “I had no idea. Could you tell me when is the wedding?” Cricketer Wasim Akram, too, expressed shock and said, “I had no clue that they were seeing each other.”
Badminton champion Saina Nehwal said, “I got to know from TV. Her last engagement was a sad experience. I wish her good luck.”
Pakistani media has reported that the two have been dating for six months. That Sania split from Sohrab Mirza barely two months back, citing incompatibility, is making many wonder if it was because she had started seeing Malik.
Malik was said to be dating Bollywood starlet Sayali Bhagat in the past. In an interview then, Bhagat had said, “He makes special trips just for me and showers me with attention. I am in love, I guess, our religion is not an issue, I am concerned about the distance between us.” Delhi based designer duo Shantanu-Nikhil are doing the trousseau for both Sania and Shoaib, for the wedding.
Meanwhile, the net-o-sphere is abuzz with reactions from fans. “How can she marry a Pakistani cricketer? India main ladkon ki kami hain kya?” posted Ashutosh on Sania’s fan community on Orkut with 56,743 members. “I am no more a fan of this girl... leaving this community,” adds Sujan S.
“We are proud to have Sania as our bahu,” says Ammar from Lahore.
From across the border
The consensus amongst the people I’ve talked to in Lahore is that Sania could’ve done better. He’s not the smartest cookie.
—Jawad Zakaria, Photographer, Lahore
It’s big news in Karachi. I don’t think it’s really a match. Look at his background — a rural family, not very literate. Sania is a babe. If the marriage survives, it’ll be good, but I don’t see it happening.
— Junaid Zaveri, finance executive, Karachi
Now Pakistan will not have to train another tennis superstar. Aik jahez main aa rahee hai! (we are getting one in dowry)
—Ahmad Rafay Alam, Businessman, Lahore
— Mayank Austen Soofi
‘Go Marry Sridevi’
MA Siddiqui, the father of Hyderabad girl Ayesha Siddiqui who Malik allegedly married in 2002 before denying it because ‘she had become fat’, reacted bitterly in an interview to a local daily, “He can marry anyone...Hema Malini or Sridevi. Shoaib married my daughter but refused to accept it. I know the mental agony my entire family had undergone and the time it took for us to recover.”