Karachi: Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik today said that he will rooting for his wife and Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, who will be starting her Olympic campaign tomorrow with women's doubles partner Rushmi Chakravarthi.
"I don't know whether cricket will ever be part of the Olympic Games. But I know that every cricket fan, follower and player wants to be involved and competing in the Olympics. But for now I am praying for Sania's success and hope she wins a gold medal," he said.
Malik along with other Pakistani cricketers, meanwhile, pitched for the inclusion of T20 cricket in the Olympics. "I don't understand why we can't have T20 cricket in the Olympics. I would love to play in the Olympics and be part of
it," said wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq hoped that since the ICC was now officially recognised as a federation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), cricket could make a return to the Olympic Games by 2020.
Cricket made a sole appearance in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, with a two-day match played between Great Britain and France that the former won. But after that cricket has never been part of the Olympics.
"It can happen very soon. But I think for that the ICC, its member boards, players and the media, we all need to develop a momentum for the inclusion of T20 cricket in the Olympics," he said.
Misbah admitted that while he would be following the Olympics closely he missed the opportunity to be in London. But with the inception of T20 competitions internationally, there has been a strong voice for the inclusion of cricket in the Olympics and the ICC has also pointed out that it is working towards it.
Former ICC CEO, Haroon Lorgat earlier this year, in an interview, had said that the Twenty20 format was suitable for the Olympics.
"We have never had a format that would lend itself to playing in the Olympics until Twenty20 came to the fore. But we will have to look at finding a suitable time slot for it," Lorgat said.
Pakistan's flamboyant all-rounder, Shahid Afridi said that it had always been a dream for him to represent his country in the Olympics and win a medal.
"Unfortunately they don't have cricket in the Olympics, but I think it can be done. With the T20 format it is possible. It would be a great boost for the sport if we can have it in the Games," Afridi said.
He said every athlete dreams of competing in the Olympics and it was no different with the cricketers. "If they had T20 cricket in the Olympics it would also boost Pakistan's chances of winning a medal," he said. The Pakistani cricketers, meanwhile, said they will be supporting their hockey team in the Olympics.
"We will be supporting them and watching every game. It is hard to escape the Olympic spirit and fever," Malik added. Although hockey is the national sport and has brought home three Olympic gold medals, cricket is the most popular
game in Pakistan.
Cricket has been played in the Commonwealth Games and was also included in the last Asian Games.