Shoaib Malik was brought into the Pakistani fold as a bowler, only to later realize his batting potential. He debuted against West Indies in Sharjah, replacing Afridi, in the 1999 Tri-Series also involving Sri Lanka. Featuring in all five matches that led to Pakistan's success, Malik's economical bowling signaled the arrival of yet another promising all-rounder.
A jack of all trades, Malik's bowling soon got sidelined and his resilient batting took prominence. His maiden ODI century against West Indies in 2002 came when Pakistan were experiencing a middle-order crisis. When he seemed to cement his batting position, further experimentation ensued. While a consistent performer with either bat or ball, the inability to define his role led to never honing a skill to perfection. In 2004, Shoaib received complaints from the ICC for a suspect bowling action, which he duly rectified within a year following surgery. During that year, he was never used as a bowler, earning his place in the side as a formidable middle-order batsman.
Under new coach, Bob Woolmer, with consistent performances between 2005 and 2007, Shoaib helped Pakistan to ODI series wins against India, Sri Lanka and West Indies. A poor showing in the 2007 World Cup saw the then-captain Inzamam-Ul-Haq sacked from the post and Shoaib was appointed as his successor. But his introvert nature disconnected Shoaib from his peers despite Pakistan experiencing decent results under his leadership, and he eventually stepped down from the post. After a disastrous Australian tour, the post-tournament debacle saw various Pakistani players sacked, and Shoaib was one of those found culpable and was handed a one-year ban on disciplinary grounds . The ban was later lifted and he made his return to the side in the 2010 Asia Cup. Malik then turned his attention towards the shortest format of the game, Twenty20 and went to ply his trade for Sialkot Stallions in their domestic T20 competition. He was appointed skipper ahead of their maiden Champions League T20 campaign. Inconsistencies, however, have made sure that his career is still a roller-coaster ride with inclusions and exclusions from the side.