Abdullah Shafique: Pakistan’s New Talent

In an era where Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan are making noise as Pakistan’s most talented batters, Abdullah Shafique is emerging silently as one to look out for. He is only four Tests old but the last two Tests have seen him put up some encouraging performances. In the first Test at Rawalpindi, Abdullah Shafique made a second-innings century, but better than that was his performance at Lahore.

Facing a target of 507 with nearly five sessions to play, Abdullah Shafique did well to drop anchor and play out as many deliveries as possible. He had a large partnership with Babar Azam, blocking and allowing Azam to bat freely keeping the target in mind. While Shafique couldn’t get to a hundred, falling short by four runs, his knock was just as crucial as Azam’s and Rizwan’s. He played out a solid 305 deliveries, took the wind out of the Australian attack and faced a chunk of their better deliveries.

See Also: What Makes Jason Holder so Valuable – Cricket Winner

Ever since the retirement of Saeed Anwar, Pakistan has struggled to unearth talented openers who could last for a while. They tried a variety of options, but the early promise shown by Abdullah Shafique may help solve the opening puzzle. The question though is if he can handle the pressure for a long time.

Often, Pakistan cricketers are hyped early on like the likes of Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal, only to fall away due to form, discipline or overseas conditions. The same could be the case with Shafique as his technique may well be found out while touring nations like Australia and England, encountering heavy swing and bounce.

Unlike the previous cases though, Shafique has come into the Test arena without being fully baked. He has only played a couple of first-class games before making an entry into the Test arena. He was fast-tracked into the side after a couple of good knocks in the domestic circuit.

His numbers in T20 cricket have also helped in an early selection as Pakistan often takes the most trending limited-overs stars into the Test team as soon as possible. Shafique made his T20I debut, but his technique and initial outings made critics feel like he was more suited to the longer format. Eventually, Shafique was dropped from the Pakistan side all together only to receive a call-up in the national team for the Test side.

His technique for the long format is solid as seen in Karachi, and he is a very stable batter. Walking in at a hopeless situation, Abdullah Shafique took each challenge as it was and enjoyed his time out there. He ensured that he did not follow Azhar Ali into the dressing room as soon as possible, and just hung on while keeping the target insight.

It was his first time facing raw pace and bounce in the form of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, but Shafique did well to counter them with the softest of touches. He didn’t attack the ball, and just let the ball come onto him, blocking it through the day. His innings was a nice preview of what can come ahead.

Over the years, Pakistan have struggled to put up batting legends with the ease that they produce bowlers. There were some potential cricketers and are now too, like Babar Azam, who could join the list of batting greats. Going by Abdullah Shafique’s early exploits he could follow Babar Azam’s footsteps. The issue though is that he has played his good knocks on surfaces that are flat and haven’t deteriorated as much as expected.

With Pakistan struggling to put up batters and bowlers who could maintain long careers in the international circuit, they will hope that they can rest on the shoulders of a 22-year old in Abdullah Shafique.