Malik fits in Delhi club game, despite tight schedule

Sunday night, Shoaib Malik played a big hand in Pakistan's T20 series levelling effort at Hambantota, Sri Lanka. A day later, he did more of the same, but at a league game of the Lala Raghubir Cup, a local hot-weather cricket tournament. In a school yard in Delhi.

It goes without saying that when Sporting Club saw his name prominently displayed on the Hargopal CC team sheet, they were more than just curious if it was in fact the international cricketer who was going to turn up against them.

He did, in a borrowed team jersey.

So, despite his obvious India connection, what on earth was Malik doing in India when wife Sania Mirza was busy at the French Open, that too just a couple of days after taking an exhausting Hambantota-Colombo-Dubai flight? To oblige a friend.

Sachin Khurana may be a cricketer who couldn't really even make the jump to first-class cricket, but thanks to his friends in high places, this match — involving the club he runs — was not without its star presence.

"I was on a brief stopover here and I couldn't have turned down my friend's request," Malik said. "Plus its easier to fulfill a cricketing request. I can never be too tired to play cricket." Thank god for that, for just four hours after Malik checked into his Delhi hotel, he was woken up almost immediately to be present for the early morning start at the Modern School grounds.

With no white outfits in his bag, Malik didn't mind borrowing a pair of flannels and a bat from his friend, but ensured that he didn't have to play in anyone else's gloves. "I always carry my batting gloves. I can adjust with anything, even my bat but I don't quite get a feel without my own gloves," he says. The game didn't pan out to Khurana's needs, as Malik only managed to score a 22-ball 26, as his side lost by seven wickets.

... contd.

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