Friday, 18 March 2011

Shafiq is The Future

Shafiq made a well compiled unbeaten 78* in Pallekele.

World Cups are stages where heroes are made and true gems are discovered. Over the years some of the world’s finest players have announced themselves to the World at a World Cup event which famously includes Inzamam Ul Haq in 1992 when the youngster took the world by storm by playing phenomenal match winning knock under pressure in the semi final at Eden Park New Zealand where victory looked improbable, but the class and exuberance of Multan’s Sultan had other ideas in mind as he blasted the Kiwi attack to all parts of the ground and single handily stamped his authority to give Pakistan an unlikely victory when they were chasing down a tough total.

Recently, Asad Shafiq got his chance after Umar Akmal pulled up an injury which side lined his participation in Pakistan’s penultimate Group Fixture against Zimbabwe and in his very first of World Cup appearances notched up a delightful knock to guide his side over the line. He caught the eye of many experts including former England left hander Mark Butcher who was impressed by the youngster as he highlighted in his post match analysis in the Sky Sports Studio.

Shafiq showed a great deal of maturity, application and determination as he walked out to bat at number 3 following the early exit of Ahmed Shehzad. Initially he looked a touch scratchy, but once he battled through the nervous patches up front, he began to find his comfort zone and was in full flow.

Asad is a short lad with a very well composed level headed stance. He generally favours the on side. Against spin he uses the crease very well to rock back and create room and this is a key scoring option he turns to. Occasionally every now and then he comes out of his blocks and can execute lofted shots. He has the ability to knock the ball around and play the ball late like a cheeky operator and tends to go about his business at a good rate.

Against pace he is very strong off his legs with anything slanting into him which he frequently tucks away neatly into the gaps. He usually gets behind the ball nicely in defence and when the width is on offer he ensures he doesn’t miss out by crunching the ball through the off side. He gets on top of the ball well and looks in control, but occasionally is found wanting playing the wrong line outside the off stump. His attitude is admirable and he has the gift of solid temperament and mental strength to carry him through and show some fighting resistance when the going gets tough or handle different match situations efficiently.

Asad models himself on Mohammad Yousuf who is one of his role models as a middle order batsmen. There are similarities already visible between the two. Specifically referring to the elegance, strike rotation and commanding presence they have at the crease as they look to dig in hard and accumulate.

In the field he is alert, agile and has top notch hand eye coordination. We have seen him make some wonderful stops and take some cool headed catches. Additionally, he provides a keeping option and is regarded as a handy glovemen who can stand in if needed.

With 2 ODI half centuries and 2 Test Half centuries already under his belt within just 18 international appearances in all formats the future is looking promising for the emerging player who has settled into international cricket very well. He can form the future of Pakistan's batting line up along with the likes of Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal and some domestic prospects like Usman Sallu, Babar Azam, Rameez Aziz and Shan Masood who have pushed through the ranks in this concluding 2010/11 season.

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