Why is Malan determined to excel against Pakistan?

Dawid Malan strong performance Pakistan Test series cement spot Test team England cricket

Dawid Malan: “If I can do well this summer I can probably nail my place on for a reasonably long time”

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England batsman Dawid Malan has acknowledged that a strong showing against Pakistan could cement his spot in the Test team in the long run.

Malan was one of the few bright spots for England during their disastrous Ashes series against Australia, which they lost 4-0, as he scored 383 runs, which included a century and three fifties, at an average of 42.55.

While he experienced a dip in form in the two-Test series against New Zealand that followed, where he accumulated 78 runs, which included a half-century, at an average of 19.50, the 30-year-old is eager to bounce back and shine once again when the two-Test series against Pakistan gets underway on Thursday at Lord’s.

Malan is likely to be promoted up to No. 4 on the batting line-up since captain Joe Root has shifted himself up to the No. 3 spot in order to take on more responsibility.

“This time last year I never thought I’d play international cricket, and now I’m going into a Test series potentially batting four for England,” Malan told Sportsmail. “It’s amazing how things have changed in the space of nine months. All my dreams have suddenly come true.

“Four is a nice position to bat, which is why Rooty wanted it so badly. You can counterattack if you’re on the ropes, or sit back a bit when you’re on top.

“And now I’m looking ahead thinking, if I can do well this summer I can probably nail my place on for a reasonably long time. With that comes a little bit of pressure as well.”

Malan currently averages 30.95 in Tests, which is largely thanks to his fantastic performance against Australia. However, the Roehampton native is determined to prove that he isn’t a one-hit wonder.

“I love proving a point,” he said. “It gets me going massively. After my first two Tests against South Africa, I was really poor. I didn’t feel like I belonged, but I scraped some runs against West Indies.

“I feel I’ve just got better and better. But I have to keep proving that I can keep scoring runs and am good enough to play more cricket for England.”

Malan admitted that he would have liked to play a few more county games for Middlesex, but considering that he scored 119 against Sussex and 76 against Gloucestershire, he is feeling in good nick going into the Test series against Pakistan.

“I didn’t necessarily expect to get picked, because I didn’t really nail it down in New Zealand,” he said. “I was still anxious, and had to focus really hard on scoring runs for Middlesex.

“Now I’m in the squad it’s different: I can relax a little bit. I’m not as anxious as I was before, because now I know I’m in. The pressure changes from the unknown of selection, to the known of having to score runs.”

Meanwhile, Malan conceded that he is excited to see wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler back in the Test squad.

Buttler was recalled to the Test team for the first Test against Pakistan, even though he has not featured in the longest format since December 2016.

“He’s unbelievable. I got picked in one of England’s T20 squads in 2016, and I remember him doing his range-hitting in the nets,” Malan said. “The whole ground stopped — even the guys he’d been playing with for years. He was that good.

“The sound the bat makes when the ball hits it is amazing. He’s a leader in his own right as well, as he’s shown when Morgy [Eoin Morgan] hasn’t been available. He’s someone people really look up to.”

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