‘I think there was pressure on me to also perform as a professional sportsman after Sania's (Mirza) outstanding success’
‘I credit my wife for my change in approach to training’
‘There is healthy competition between husband and wife who are professional athletes’
Having scored a patient century on his Test comeback, former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik credited his wife, Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, for his success in international cricket since his recall to the national side this year.
Malik was dismissed for 245 after completing his double century on Day 2 of the first Test match against England in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Malik made the third-highest score ever by a Pakistan batsman against England before falling to Ben Stokes while attempting to drag the bowler from outside off stump through midwicket.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Malik was unbeaten on 124 at the end of the opening day's play and the ton was in continuation of the success Malik, who made his first Test appearance since August 2010, has enjoyed since being recalled to Pakistan's national T20 and ODI squads this year.
"I think there was pressure on me to also perform as a professional sportsman after Sania's outstanding success in recent times on the tennis court.
"We speak to each other every day and now I have become used to congratulating her on her titles and she on my success," Malik said.
The all-rounder, who came in to bat at the crucial number three position, said he learnt a lot from his tennis star wife.
"Sania has proved to be a inspiration for me in many ways even as a sportsman. After watching her win titles even after battling with fitness issues I was also inspired to match her feats as a professional sportsman.
"There is healthy competition between husband and wife who are professional athletes. I credit my wife for my change in approach to training and my recent success and new international career," he said.
The former Pakistan captain said having a wife who is also an athlete made it easier for him to discuss sports-related issues with her and seek advice, adding it was a gratifying feeling to score a century on his Test comeback.
"Even when I was dropped from the Test squad I didn't give up hope and I focussed on the other formats and first class cricket and foreign leagues and, I think, all that prepared me for my Test comeback."
Malik was fortunate to get a call-up for the first Test since Pakistan's regular number three batsman Azhar Ali, was ruled out of the Test with a toe infection, while leg spinner Yasir Shah also got injured during training a day before the Test on Monday.
He admitted that he has steeled himself physically and mentally to make the most of his opportunities that now come his way.
"I am training harder now and I focus more. Playing a Test match after such a long time is never easy for anyone.
But the rewards are worth this pressure," he added.