Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai

Shafiq not feeling the pressure

George Dobell in Dubai

February 1, 2012

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Asad Shafiq played a careful innings during Pakistan's fightback, Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd Day, January 27, 2012
Asad Shafiq's runs in the second Test against England went a long way to securing victory for side © AFP
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Of all the encouraging signs to emerge for Pakistan in their series against England - and there have been many - the batting of Asad Shafiq could have the most long-term significance.

The 26-year-old Karachi batsman, Shafiq, scored 101 runs in total in the second Test - a hefty contribution in a low-scoring match - and with Azhar Ali produced a second-innings stand of 88 that, with the game in the balance, turned out to have a decisive impact on the result. For two relatively young men to produce such a performance under pressure bodes very well for Pakistan's future.

To make Shafiq's batting all the more impressive, he came into the game under a little bit of pressure. There had been suggestions that Umar Akmal, the highly talented 21-year-old from Lahore, might win a recall. Despite scoring an undefeated century against Bangladesh just a couple of Tests previously, Shafiq had only contributed one other score over 50 in his 13 previous Test innings. He needed to justify the faith shown in him.

Shafiq accepts that he is not the finished article. He took some of the gloss off his first innings half-century with a reckless sweep and failed to capitalise on all his hard work, but he insists that such experiences are part of the learning process.

"Mistakes are bound to happen," he said. "I tried my best to bat for longer but, once in a while, such a rush of blood will happen. I will learn from such mistakes.

"In the second innings, I was out to a good ball from Monty Panesar. It was not a rash shot; it was a good ball. But I don't feel any pressure. I play for Pakistan, not myself. So whichever position my team needs me in, I will bat there and I will play for Pakistan and give my best."

To date, Shafiq has just one century: that innings of 104 in Chittagong. He feels he is improving, though, and has chosen one of the men whose place he has taken in the Pakistan team as his role model.

"I learned a lot from my century against Bangladesh," Shafiq said. "I am learning day by day. I model my batting on Mohammad Yousuf. He is my idol. I have watched most of his innings and, when he scored a lot of runs in one year, 2006, he became my favourite batsman. I learned a lot from watching his style and I hope to bat like him. I want to play as positively as possible and score as many centuries as possible."

Shafiq was impressed with the England bowling. "Their bowling attack was very tight," he said. "They did not allow us to score at even three runs per over. Batting in both Tests has been tough. But, we have gelled very well as a team and played those last two Tests very well."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (February 4, 2012, 20:55 GMT)

I think Pakistan has great talented cricketers.What PCB has to do is to select those players who play for Pakistan. We have so many entertainer like Shehzad Ahmed,Shahbaz Hasan but we have very few cricketers who play according to situation of the match. A quality player is the one who imrove and work on his mistakes and faulty technique. We also should give chance to player who deserve it. There should not be place for favoritism or nepotism in selection.

Posted by Cricket_Live on (February 4, 2012, 17:04 GMT)

All you big talking guys and passing big comments about test cricket and how umar akmal is not fit for test cricekt, have you actually think this through?? he is in his early 20's if you pay little attention. you wanted him to be born test cricketer? or infact he has to learn the patience and temprament you guys keep talking about while playing more and more cricket?

We collectively have a fundamental flaw and its called, being too judgemental all the time. Umra Akmal has talent, confidence and can rotate strike at will, no point mentioning he can hit big to spinners and fast bolwer with equal ease. So what is needed to make him the greatest batsman he deserves to be? more time on the wicket on the highest level. Only then he can justify the potential GOD has granted him. He needs us on his side and i assure you.....he is the next big thing for pakistan cricket without a shadow of doubt.

Posted by Mr.Dude on (February 3, 2012, 18:45 GMT)

No, just no.

This is TEST, not a T20, Umar Akmal, right now, he's a T20 player. To play a test, you need to be able to stay at the wicket, and not get out every 5 balls, hitting like 3 4's and getting out. In a test you need to be able to score high, while staying at the crease, something Akmal cannot do.

Posted by pak2015 on (February 2, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

Pakistan is fundamentally a better team then England. We can always beat them. England over estimates itself. We will inshallah win 3-0. Pakistan however needs to analyse its batsmen. If we can improve in this department to even average, we will dominate all forms of the game, even Australia. Umar Akmal and maybe even Kamran, i believe have what it takes to take on this challenge but need to become serious mature batsman and consistently put at least 50 on the board every time they come out. If they can do this no doubt WC 2015 is ours.

Posted by   on (February 2, 2012, 21:06 GMT)

Cricket is all about performance, I would take a work horse over some flamboyant player who thinks he's the best thing that happened to mankind since sliced bread. People praised Sarwan from W.I the same way but where is he now, Chanderpaul the workhorse has left him behind. Umar Akmal might have the glamour shots but I'd take a guy who can grind a score in tough conditions then a guy who can beat bowling when HE is on. I think Shafiq said it best, I play for "PAKISTAN and not for myself", whereas Akmal, Afridi, Akhtar, Salman, Asif and Aamir they play for themselves first and country second. I have never seen Afridi graft an innings, Shoaib Akhtar always used to pull muscles when there was nothing left in the pitch and lets not talk about Butt, Asif and Aamir. Pakistan is a talent producing machine, lets give those who put country first, a chance, this new team with Misbah and Mohsin (M&M) guiding them is awesome, not big on superstar but they know how to win!

Posted by explorer76 on (February 2, 2012, 19:51 GMT)

@mrhamilton - I agree, characters like umar akmal who spread disunity should not be allowed in the team regardless of their talent. And in any case umar akmal has shown no sign of maturity and willingness to work hard and not throw away his wicket. He just comes in, plays some shots and gets out. Not someone you want in a test side. Maybe in ODI, but definitely not in tests.

Posted by   on (February 2, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

We all Pakistani's guys, So please, there is no difference between Lahore and Karachi. Who would perform well, deserve to stay in team. for me at the Pakistan have only world class batsman, Mohammad Yousuf. I am hoping to see him in Pakistan team very soon........ Inshallah

Posted by   on (February 2, 2012, 18:53 GMT)

i totally with reality_check...Pakistan should include Umar Akmal in the 3rd test but not at the expense of Asad Shafiq. Junaid Khan was hardly used in the 2nd test so why keep him around just to occupy space. Drop him for Akmal. Go with Gul and two specialist spinners in Ajmal and Rehman plus Hafeez who in his own right can be a full time spinner. Umar Akmal will give extra fire power to the batting which most likely will be needed in Dubai.

Posted by mueenhameed on (February 2, 2012, 17:31 GMT)

Hello...guys.....please Its a Pakistani team..it does not matter whether talented players are from Lahore or Karachi. Asad Shafiq played well in last test so he deserves his place in test team but Umar Akmal is more talented than any player in current team If most cricket PUNDITS believe that Taufiq is not good enough against spin then let Azhar open with Hafeez and Umar Akmal should play at #3. It was Ejaz Butt's FORMULA not to play 2 Akmals in team which was stupid idea. He was a mentally sick man. Experts of every corner of cricket world are praising talent of Umar Akmal. I believe Umar Akmal must be given chance in Dubai test

Posted by Israr75 on (February 2, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

With such a fragile middle order I don't understand why we don't play Yoousuf infact him in the team and one new young hopeful like Asad of Ali could learn alot. Not only that you would also have the stability rather then pushing 2 young guys to replace someone like Yousuf.

We was very luck the fact we won this test. Although well played by the Ali and Asad they still got to prove there worth. One off innings doesnt make them outstanding batsman.

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