Shoaib Malik is without a doubt, one of the best all-rounders Pakistan cricket has ever produced! Malik led Pakistan to the final of the inaugural T-20 World Cup, and is well-known for his outstanding contribution to the sport over the years.

But Malik has also seen the dark side of proceedings. He was out of the team for so many years, for so many reasons. A lack of consistency was but one, of the many speed bumps in his once high-flying career. Malik was denunciated for playing politics within the team. He had numerous arguments with the Captain over batting positions. There was once a time in Pakistan cricket when Shoaib Malik was perhaps the least desired player by any captain for any format.

Malik started his career as a freelance cricketer. Playing in almost every T-20 league around the world, the all-rounder showed he had the fight in him. Proving his metal time and time again not just overseas, but also domestically.

Today, the 33-year-old is having the time of his life in the green shirt. Desperate to perform, Malik is now the lynch-pin of Pakistan’s middle order in each format. But the attitude with which he took-on this newfound responsibility is what’s perhaps most remarkable. After the departure of Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-haq from the ODI format, Malik was summoned, and offered what was perhaps his last opportunity. Now, with a much more responsible head on his shoulders, Malik proceeded to do what he does best — impeccable timing while batting and useful contributions with the ball.

His comeback to test cricket was also a grand one. Who would’ve thought that after being sidelined for five years, Malik would return with a double century against World-ranked No. 3 England? The scary part is, he might not have even gotten the chance, had Azhar Ali been fit-to-play.

If Shoaib Malik is able to continue his run Pakistan is sure to enjoy a lot of success on the international level. The retirement of Misbah-ul-haq looms in the waiting, which means Shoaib Malik could be in line for a golden opportunity as middle order batsman.

Cricket is this nation’s heartbeat, and Shoaib Malik has the ability to keep it pumping.