(Photo credit: Pakistan Cricket Board)
Another name in Pakistan’s battery of impressive youngsters, 21-year-old Abdullah Shafique who earned his maiden ODI and Test call-ups despite having just one first-class and one List A game to his name. Here’s all you need to know about the top-order batsman.
Abdullah Shafique – the beginning
Shafique was born in Sialkot in 1999 to a cricketing family – his father Shafiq Ahmed was a Pakistani first-class cricketer while his uncle, Arshad Ali, featured in four ODIs for UAE. By 14, he had made it to the Sialkot U16s side, and by 15, he was playing at U19 level for them.
In 2015, he broke into the U19 Pakistan team, touring Sri Lanka for both List A games as well as red-ball games as an opening batsman. Next year, he was part of the Pakistan side that participated in the U19 Asia Cup but failed to qualify for the semi-finals, featuring against other future stars such as Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill.
First-class debut: 133
T20 debut: 102* (58) 🤯
— ICC (@ICC) October 1, 2020
Making it to the big leagues
Before he turned 18, he was snapped up by Multan Sultans ahead of the 2018 Pakistan Super League, although he did not get a game.
Shafique gave an early account of being a big-match performer; in 2019, he was handed his first-class debut under Ahmed Shehzad for Central Punjab and scored a century in his maiden innings. In a batting line-up that contained the likes of Salman Butt, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal and Kamran Akmal, Shafique held his own, posting 133 from No.3.
Alhamdulilah this feels like a dream seeing my name selected for Pakistan
It has taken years of hard work to get here, and I’ll continue to work even harder. This is just the start☝️
Thank you everyone for the support❤️
— Abdullah Shafique (@imabd28) October 19, 2020
A T20 star in the making
The T20 debut came two years later, in the 2020/21 National T20 Cup, where he featured under Kamran Akmal in Central Punjab alongside two other debutants. Walking in at No.4, with the side at 1-2 in pursuit of South Punjab’s 201, Shafique blasted an unbeaten 58-ball 102, hitting 11 fours and four sixes against an attack featuring Mohammed Irfan and Aamer Yamin.
He ended with 358 runs @ 44.75 at a strike-rate of 133.08, hitting two fifties along with the century. He is the first Pakistan batsman, and the second in the world, to score a century on his first-class and T20 debut.
In an interaction with Shan Masood after his T20 debut heroics, Shafiq revealed that he’s always idolised Ricky Ponting, and “has admired his pull shot from the start”. From the current Pakistan team, he looks up to Babar Azam.
The resounding performances in the National T20 Cup paved the way for his maiden national call-up. Shafique was named in the 22-member limited-overs squad for the home series against Zimbabwe. Experienced players such as Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir made way for youngsters like Shafique, Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah.
“My ambition is to serve Pakistan,” Shafiq told Masood earlier this month, “and I’ll try to keep continuing my good performances like this. Whenever I get a chance, I’ll aim to give it my very best.”
On debut, Shafique hit an unbeaten 41 in a chase of 130. He was retained for the subsequent T20I series in New Zealand where Shafique registered ducks in both of his innings. He won his maiden ODI and Test call-ups for Pakistan’s tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe despite having played just one first-class game and one match of List A cricket.