herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Malik and Mirza make love match

Former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik is set to marry Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, a union of two of South Asia's most well known sports personalities.

The marriage is sure to attract attention because neighbouring Pakistan and India are long-time rivals, and have fought three wars since 1947.

"The news of me marrying Sania is true," Malik posted on Twitter. "Inshallah (God willing) we will get married in April."

The Pakistan Cricket Board has fined and banned Malik for one year for unspecified disciplinary reasons following heavy defeats in both Test and limited-overs series against Australia earlier this year.

The 23-year-old Mirza ended a previous engagement to childhood friend Sohrab Mirza in January citing incompatibility.

She issued a statement confirming the plans, but asking for privacy.

"My wedding is going to be the biggest day of my life," she said. "I have been in the media glare for too long and would appreciate a little privacy at this very personal moment in my life."

Her father, Imran Mirza, said both Sania and Malik will be based in Dubai but continue to represent their countries in their respective sports.

"This is a unique case where husband and wife will represent their respective countries in sport," he said in a statement issued in Hyderabad, India, where the family lives.

Malik, 28, was at the centre of marriage controversy five years ago when he was reportedly broke an engagement with Ayesha Siddiqui, who was from Mirza's hometown in India. Malik has denied any serious relationship with Siddiqui.

News of the Malik-Mirza engagement spread quickly yesterday. Newspapers reported that Malik first met Mirza in Hobart, Australia in January, when the Pakistan squad was on tour and Mirza was in the city for a tennis tournament. One newspaper reported: "It was after this meeting that Mirza's engagement with her childhood friend broke."

Diplomatic relations between Pakistan and India grew more tense after a terrorist attack in the Indian film and financial hub of Mumbai in November 2008. As a result the Indian cricket team postponed its scheduled test tour to Pakistan due to security concerns.

Malik played for Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural edition of IPL in 2008. He played 29 test matches for Pakistan and scored 1,517 runs at an average of 36.11.

Malik lost the captaincy of the national team after Pakistan lost a limited-overs series to Sri Lanka at home last year.

Mirza, a two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion, became the first Indian woman to crack the top 40 in the international tennis rankings, reaching a career high of No27 in August 2007.

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