Written by Shamik Chakrabarty
Updated: July 20, 2022 9:28:06 pm
Shafique opened the innings, played 408 balls and stayed at the crease for 524 minutes for his match-winning unbeaten 160, going at a strike rate of 39. (Twitter/Abdullah Shafique)
Unadulterated old-school Test batting did the job for Abdullah Shafique and Pakistan, at a time when Bazball has become a fad in long-form cricket. The 22-year-old, resplendent in his tenacity, concentration and ball-consumption, ensured that his team pulled off a 342-run fourth innings chase in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle.
Shafique opened the innings, played 408 balls and stayed at the crease for 524 minutes for his match-winning unbeaten 160, going at a strike rate of 39. The fifth-day Galle pitch, albeit sluggish in nature, was offering unpredictability and turn. Bazball barely had a chance.
Shafique, a Test neophyte, was only into his sixth game at this level. He showed maturity beyond his years. Typical of a batsman from the subcontinent, he favoured the legside, with the flick being his most productive shot. ESPNCricinfo stats showed a 90 per cent shot control.
Look For the Magic In Every Moment ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/5QcD4ZjIFy
— Abdullah Shafique (@imabd28) July 20, 2022
“A star is born (in Pakistan cricket) today,” said Javed Miandad emphatically. “Now expectations will be higher and Shafique will have to live up to them. He has the potential to score double hundreds and triple hundreds, just that this innings shouldn’t make him satisfied. His hunger must burn. That’s the recipe for consistency and success,” the former Pakistan captain added.
Shafique did something similar in March, against Australia in Karachi. His 96 off 305 balls in 465 minutes had laid the foundation for one of Pakistan’s finest rearguard efforts in a draw, against an imposing fourth innings target of 506. In more fashionable lingo, it is called a blockathon. The youngster revelled in his old-school determination.
Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan outshone him in Karachi, scoring 196 and 104 not out respectively. Babar’s magnificent century in the first innings at Galle notwithstanding, this turned out to be Shafique’s game. He was duly adjudged Player of the Match. “I’m quite happy that we chased the target on the last day. The plan was simple, that we have to go for the runs. The pitch was difficult but as you spent more time, it got easier. When the spinners were bowling with the new ball, they were getting help,” Shafique said at the post-match presentation.
After England’s gung-ho approach and four consecutive home Test wins under new red-ball coach Brendon McCullum, Bazball ruled the roost. Even England Test captain Ben Stokes spoke about his team being out to change the way long-form cricket is played. During a media interaction, McCullum was asked if the days of obdurate Test batsmen are over.
“I haven’t really thought too much about that. I just look at the players we have got and I think they fit the bill for what we are trying to achieve and the style we want to play. It’s probably not what we are after. I’m happy with what we have got at the moment anyway,” the England coach had said.
— Naseem Shah (@iNaseemShah) July 20, 2022
Shafique’s knock provided a definitive answer. Classical Test batting will never die, especially in conditions that test a batsman’s limits.
Luck smiled on Shafique a few times. In the third over on Wednesday, he was hit on the back leg by left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya. Ball-tracking showed that the ball was missing the bails by a coat of varnish. On 128, he survived a clear run-out chance, with Dhananjaya de Silva missing the target from slip. Then, with the game still delicately poised, Shafique danced down the track but mistimed his slog against Dhananjaya, only to be reprieved by Kasun Rajitha at deep mid-wicket. That was the match. From the batsman’s perspective, fortune favoured the brave.
Shafique was spotted by Pakistan’s former head coach and former chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq. So impressed was the latter with the young player’s talent that he spoke about how the opener would be a guaranteed success at the highest level. Shafique, in turn, spoke about giving his “110 per cent” and “following the process” during an interview earlier this year. In six Tests so far, he has scored 720 runs at 80.00, including two hundreds and four half-centuries. The next step for the die-hard Ricky Ponting fan would be to take this performance outside Asia.
And when he is not playing cricket, Shafique is strumming a guitar and crooning ‘Aye Khuda’, as a YouTube video would attest.
Subscriber Only StoriesView AllPremiumUPSC Key-July 20, 2022: Why you should read ‘Twiplomacy’ or ‘Violence’ or…PremiumMarathi votes split, Sena eyes north Indian support before BMC litmus testPremiumExplained: Who is Ranil Wickremesinghe, old warhorse with a (tough) shot …PremiumExplained: Why do people give up their Indian citizenship, and where do t…Subscribe Now to get 66% OFF
Brief scores: Sri Lanka 222 and 337 lost to Pakistan 218 and 344/6 (Abdullah Shafique 160 not out, Babar Azam 55, Mohammad Rizwan 40; Prabath Jayasuriya 4/135) by 4 wickets
For your UPSC prep, a special sale on our ePaper. Do not miss out!
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
© The Indian Express (P) Ltd
- Abdullah Shafique
Subscribers Reading NowOpinion: It's time to change the standard love story How CMs' foreign trips are cleared, and by whomAntrix Deal: As it prosecuted Devas, ex-ISRO officials, Govt sought ‘settlement’Covid effect? More students skip Class 10, 12 BoardsLessons on navigating evolving geopolitics in the Middle EastUPSC Key-July 19: What to read and why for UPSC CSEOpinionT M Krishna writes: We no longer know how to respond to violencePremiumEditorialSC has done well to draw a few red lines in Zubair caseExplainedWho is Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka's new President?PremiumUPSC KeyWhy you should read ‘Twiplomacy’ or ‘Citizens and Aliens’PremiumPujara slams third double century for Sussex in county cricketExplainedWhat are tetrapods, and did their removal cause 'unusual vibrations' along Mumbai's Marine Drive?WatchSpeeding ambulance skids on wet road, rams into K'taka toll boothPythagorean geometry in Vedic-era texts, centuries before PythagorasPremiumWhy does Magnus Carlsen find the World Chess Championship boring?Covid review meet: Centre urges states, UTs to step up surveillanceA career seen through supporting roles: Naseeruddin Shah in Mandi, Monsoon Wedding and othersSPONSOREDMadHat Season 5 Organized by Symbiosis Centre for Media and CommunicationLatest News
- Filmmaker Avinash Das arrested, police say he has a history of putting up fake posts
- Mumbai cops arrest burglar from Uttar Pradesh, his aide held in Delhi
- Ranil’s challenge
- Fortifying freedom
- Amitabh Bachchan shares a startling experience of Kaun Banega Crorepati Season 14 contestant
- UK’s Sunak and Truss go through to final stage of leadership contest
- Making the Indian Ocean plastic free
- Three foods for relief when you are down with cold and flu
- Hockey world cup in India under threat: International federation to dispatch delegation for talks with government, CoA
- SPPU entrance exam starts today, over 21,500 register for it
- Manoj Bajpayee rejects reports of him playing a cop in Pushpa 2: ‘Kahan kahan se…’
- Alt News’ Mohammed Zubair walks out of Tihar jail after SC grants him bail