The family of Hyderabadi girl Maha, who married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik over phone two years ago, is excited about hosting dinner for the 16-member Pakistani cricket squad that arrives in Hyderabad on Tuesday to play a warm-up match against India 'A' at the newly-constructed Visakha stadium in the city on Wednesday.
Maha aka Ayesha, who has become an instant celebrity after phone-ins by media persons in the last two days, says she would not be able to meet Malik since she is suffering from mumps.
"It is very infectious and since he is gearing up to play in the one-day series, it is better if I stay away from him," she points out.
Her family also wants to keep the dinner for the Pakistani team a totally private affair, away from the prying eyes of the media. Maha may also miss the chance to watch the warm-up match or the six-match one-day series starting this week, due to her illness.
Incidentally, it will be the third visit by Shoaib Malik to the city after he fell in love with Maha and married her.
Recalling how it all happened, Maha said it was love at first sight.
"We met for the first time in Sharjah in 2000. I was there with my family for the Dubai shopping festival and he was playing a match. I was sitting with my friends in the hotel when he came up to me with a room key that we had left behind. I did not recognize him then and just said thank you. He looked really young and boyish," she pointed out.
The chance meeting grew into friendship and love after Maha returned to Jeddah, where she was born to a Hyderabadi couple. Her father Mohammed Ahmed Siddiqui works for Saudi Airlines. Maha finished her studies in Saudi Arabia and took up a job as administrator at the International School affiliated to the University of Cambridge. Maha and Malik kept in touch with each other through the Internet.
Subsequently, they decided to marry over phone and inform her parents later. Nikah was performed over phone on May 2, 2003, when Maha was in Hyderabad and Malik in Sialkot, his hometown in Pakistan. Maha's cousins were the witnesses in Hyderabad while Malik's parents and relatives were in Sialkot.
Towards the end of 2003, her cousins broke the news of her telephonic marriage to her parents. They were shocked initially but later blessed the couple. However, the marriage was kept a secret for two years, as the families wanted Malik to settle down.
When Maha came to the city on vacation, Malik also dropped in twice, once in September 2002 and again in November 2004.
"We went together to Imax theatre to watch a movie but could not get the tickets. We hang around the place but nobody recognized him," Maha recalls.
Both the families are planning a formal ceremony and reception in Hyderabad in this August, depending on Malik's cricket commitments. Thereafter, Maha wants to join Malik in Sialkot and settle down.
"I hope I will have a great time after I join him in Sialkot. I plan to open a school there," says Maha, who is doing MBA through correspondence.
Maha expressed disappointment at Malik being forced to miss the action in the Test series against India because of suspect bowling action.
After the India tour, Malik, who is in the one-day squad, will visit South Africa for a corrective surgery to get himself cleared by the International Cricket Council.
"We are all praying that he is cleared by ICC," she explains.