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Marriage over before the countdown
Sania’s father Imran Mirza with Shoaib Malik during the ceremony

Hyderabad, April 12: This match didn’t even enter the slog overs, or tiebreaker if you like.

Shoaib Malik and Sania Mirza wrapped it up today itself — three days early — wrong-footing the fatwa brigade and assorted protest parties.

The former Pakistan cricket captain and the bubbly tennis star tied the knot this afternoon, though their families had insisted even yesterday that the wedding would take place only a couple of hours before the scheduled April 15 reception.

“The nikaah has been completed. Please pray for the couple,” Sania’s spokesperson Rucha Naik told reporters.

Sania and Shoaib after the nikaah

Shoaib, 28, who wore a diamond-studded black sherwani, was “poorer” by Rs 61 lakh (the amount he paid Sania as meher or dowry) after the “very simple” wedding, but it ended 10 days of drama that included a divorce. He also presented her a car.

As for Sania, 24, she became the cricketer’s second wife, dressed in the same sari her mother Naseema had worn at her wedding 25 years ago.

Sources close to the couple said the decision to bring the wedding forward came last night. They said the women in the two families wanted to advance the nikaah after some local clerics issued a fatwa against Shoaib’s “unIslamic” stay at Sania’s house before marriage and several groups were planning demonstrations in front of the wedding venue.

“Even the media have been chasing us as if we were planning a coup,” said a relative of Sania, whose trip to a Chinese restaurant two days ago was filmed and published.

All talk of a Thursday wedding appeared to be a “smokescreen”, said a source.

Sania and Shoaib with Imran Mirza, Sania’s sister Anam, Shoaib’s mother Sultana Malik and Sania’s mother Naseema

By this morning, however, the haze had lifted.

Around 11.30, Sania’s spokesperson Rucha emerged from the tennis star’s Jubilee Hills home to announce to the crowd of assembled reporters that the wedding would take place in a “short while from now”.

“We are not keen to announce the venue,” she added, but asked the media to pray for the couple.

About two hours later, the wedding was solemnised by Hyderabad’s chief qazi Najmuddin Hussain and his deputy Azmatullah Jafri at the ballroom of the Taj Krishna hotel. Sania and Shoaib signed the nikaahnama following a nod from the qazis after a scrutiny of photocopies of Shoaib’s passport and visa.

“We had to obtain a photocopy of Shoaib’s passport from Hyderabad police for the nikaah ceremony as his passport is still in the possession of a court,” the cricketer’s brother-in-law Imran Zafar said.

The passport had been impounded after Shoaib’s first wife Ayesha Siddique, whom he divorced last week, had filed a complaint against him for cheating and harassment.

(From left) Imran Zafar (Shoaib’s brother-in-law), Adeel Ali Malik (Shoaib’s brother), Reza Mehamood (Shoaib’s brother-in-law), Mamoon Imran (Shoaib’s nephew), Shoaib, Sultana Malik (Shoaib’s mother), Sania, Shoaib’s sisters Gazala Reza, Shazia Imran and Sadaf Nasir Malik and Shoaib’s niece Zehnib Imran. Pictures by Vijayalakshmi

“It is a very happy occasion for us all after the ordeal we went through the last 10 days. We are relieved the marriage has finally taken place. We are grateful and thankful to all those people in both countries who supported us and wished for this marriage to take place,” Imran said. He said only 50 relatives attended the wedding, 15 of them from Shoaib’s side. “We kept it a simple affair,” Imran added. “Sania looked very nice in a red sari worn by her mother at her nikaah 25 years ago. She also wore a necklace of rubies and other jewels, while Shoaib was dressed in a black sherwani with a black cap given by (Sania’s father) Imran Mirza,” Imran added.

The first hint that the nikaah was nigh was the group of drummers in front of the Mirza home. Then some people, men and women, broke into a dance.

Soon, Sania emerged, accompanied by her parents, Imran Mirza and Naseema, and sister Anam. They drove to the wedding venue in a black BMW, said to be lucky for Imran Mirza’s business and Sania’s tennis career. The media chased Sania to the hotel but were stopped at the entrance.

As announced earlier, the mehendi ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow. Sangeet, when the couple will dance together, will be on April 14 and the reception will be held a day later, all at the Taj Krishna ballroom.

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