Bengaluru, June 18: Veteran Pakistan batting all-rounder Shoaib Malik has come under an intense criticism after his back-to-back ducks in two vital matches in the World Cup 2019. Both against Australia in Taunton and India in Manchester, Malik was required to lead a fightback after Pakistan slumped to a critical phase but his ducks at the crucial No.6 position hurt the team badly.
According to former Pakistan cricketers, the 37-year-old might not play again for Pakistan and his World Cup journey is well over. If it happens to be the case, Malik will not be the only unfortunate one to have witnessed his career ending abruptly and that too at the World Cup.
Even though Malik had announced earlier that the WC 2019 will be his final ODI assignment, not getting to play any of the four remaining matches will certainly not make up a worthy farewell for a cricketer who has served for two decades.
In 1996, former India pacer Manoj Prabhakar had a similar situation. The veteran bowler went one wicket in India's first match against Kenya and then went rewardless in the next two games against the West Indies and Australia. And after Sri Lanka's batsmen took him on at his own ground - Delhi - slamming him for 47 runs in four overs and forcing him to bowl off-spinners, the road had ended for the 33-year-old. Prabhakar hadn't played for India again.
Former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga had tasted the bitter pill as well. After leading his country to their only World Cup victory in 1996, the left-hand batsman had gone on to defend the title in England in 1999 as well. But it was a complete disappointment for the reigning champions as they lost three of their five games to crash out in the group stage itself. Ranatunga was not entirely a failure with the bat and scored a fifty in the final game of the tournament against Kenya. But his captaincy was taken away and he never played a ODI match for his country again.
Former South Africa pacer Allan Donald is another cricketer who had a similar ending. However, the 'White Lightning', as Donald was called once for his pace, was more graceful as he officially retired from the game after playing the last match for South Africa in World Cup 2003 at home. Donald, who was clearly struggling with form at 37 then, played only three matches for SA in WC 2003 and went for a lot of runs in the first two. It was after a moderate 2 for 27 against Canada that he said at a press conference in Bloemfontein: "I have simply reached the end of the road".
Richie Richardson was another player who had quit at the end of a World Cup (1996). However, it was not a on-the-spot decision and the former West Indian captain had contemplated retirement under growing pressure and friction with Brian Lara, his team's No.1 batsman. Richardson still could take the West Indies to their fourth World Cup final in the same year but for an incredible five-run loss to the Australians. Richardson himself remained not out on 49 in that game and witnessed helplessly a dream getting shattered.