An unlikely marriage of sporting stars – and Pakistan and India

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The Independent Online

As India and Pakistan make heavy weather of their protracted return to the negotiating table, an unprecedented cross-border détente of a decidedly more romantic nature has been settled by two of the countries' sporting stars. One of Pakistan's leading cricketers has confirmed his engagement to India's top tennis player. Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza are due to get married next month.

Malik, a former captain of the Pakistan national side, confirmed the wedding on Twitter. "The news of me marrying Sania is true. Inshallah, we will get married in April," he wrote, adding: "Thanks guys. I'm overwhelmed with your wishes [and] prayers."

It is understood that Malik, 28, and Mirza, 23, met in Australia and the cricketer's family visited the tennis star's parents in Hyderabad to arrange the wedding, which will be celebrated in both countries. They couple plan to live in Dubai, though continuing to represent their countries.

The two stars had both previously been due to marry other people and Mirza only broke off a seven-month engagement to a childhood friend earlier this year, citing "incompatibility". Malik, meanwhile, was the focus of controversy several years ago when he reportedly ended an engagement with an Indian woman from Mirza's hometown. The two had reportedly developed a friendship on the internet and the woman's father threatened to take Malik to court.

The couple are also no strangers to sporting controversy. Mirza, a two-time Grand Slam mixed doubles champion who became the first Indian woman to enter the top 40 in the international tennis rankings, has been criticised by conservatives for wearing sports skirts while playing.

Meanwhile, the man she is to marry was banned from playing for the Pakistan team for a year for alleged indiscipline during a disastrous tour of Australia this year. He has appealed against the ban.

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