back icon


'Compact' Abdullah Shafique keeps growing in stature

Last updated on 27 Dec 2023 | 06:14 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
'Compact' Abdullah Shafique keeps growing in stature

Shafique’s half-century in Melbourne meant that he has a 50+ score in all the countries he has played in

Another cricketer from Babar Azam's mould, how long can he succeed? 

The talk in Pakistan was similar when Abdullah Shafique made his Test debut 2022 against Bangladesh in Chattogram. He was viewed as someone with the skill set of a generational talent, but could his temperament stand tall? 

Across his 15-match Test career, Shafique has shown that he has the skill set and the temperament to succeed at the highest level. Just a few weeks ago, at the 2023 ODI World Cup, Shafique joined Mohammad Rizwan to orchestrate one of Pakistan's greatest World Cup wins, chasing 345 against Sri Lanka. 

The other day, Shafique’s double-century on a turning wicket in Colombo helped Pakistan win by an innings and 222 runs over Sri Lanka. Or this day when his 160 helped Pakistan to a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka on a turning paradise at Galle. 

Or how about when his gritty 96 over 465 minutes helped Pakistan pull off a defying draw at home against Australia? 

Shafique has never shied away from taking responsibilities at the top of the order, and with Pakistan’s growing concerns over an able opener in the past, the 24-year-old’s form couldn’t have been timed any better. 

Before the first Test against Australia in Perth, Shafique’s Test numbers had already skyrocketed, an average of 50.83, with four half-centuries and four centuries, including scoring a 50+ score in all the countries he had visited. 

But the real test: could he prove his mettle in Australia, where conditions are quite alien? 

On his debut on the Australian shore against Prime Minister’s XI, Shafique showed his gritty nature with 38, but his dismissal left a terrible aftertaste. It was a loose dismissal from a batter who was quite compact in how he went about things. 

However, in Perth, he took that up a notch in his 74-run partnership with Imam-ul-Haq, where the duo took the Australian bowlers for a ride, grazing well without having too much to worry about. In fact, that knock saw him score six fours and, at the same time, occupy the crease enough to frustrate the Aussies. 

The bar was already elevated, and all that was left was a half-century in the country, and he earmarked the Boxing Day Test to announce himself. He did, too, when he dropped David Warner early on day one, becoming the laughing stock for not just social media but also for the commentators who dissected his technique as ‘poor’. But the opener later made amends when he caught Marnus Labuschagne, kissing the ball almost in relief. 

When Australia’s innings folded for 318, all eyes were on the Pakistani openers. Would they hold the fort against the mighty Australian bowling unit on a track that the batters found challenging to bat on? 

Shafique answered that. He was on point from ball one, knocking the ball around for a single. He found boundaries relatively easily and even looked comfortable against Nathan Lyon, a menace in his first spell. Even his steers were well in control against Pat Cummins, where he found the gap behind square on the off-side. 

It was almost like he was batting on a different surface from the other batters. Alongside skipper Shan Masood, the duo headlined an aggressive brand of cricket that saw them take the attack to Lyon and eventually even forced one of the greatest off-spinners out of the attack. 

When he leant and played a square drive for a four to bring up his half-century, the commentators were in total awe of the right-hander's talent. It was also his half-century in five countries: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India and Australia. 

One word that stood out through the entire innings: compact. 

If it wasn’t for Pat Cummins’ athletic effort, where he leapt across to pull off a ripper, Shafique would have still been marching strong at the packed Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Related Article