'He's a special player': teammates heap praise on Shafiq

Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq raises his bat as he walks from the Gabba.
Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq raises his bat as he walks from the Gabba. DAN PELED


That's how Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq described Asad Shafiq's 10th Test ton.

But he could have used the phrase "record breaking”, too.

It was Shafiq's ninth century batting at No.6, which makes him the most prolific ton scorer to ever occupy that position at Test level.

Sir Garfield Sobers - the game's greatest all-rounder - previously held the record, with eight centuries.

No wonder his skipper was bursting with pride.

"That was one of the classiest innings I've ever seen,” Misbah said.

"In the context of the game, the way he handled the pressure, playing with the tail - he made a match out of nothing.

"As a skipper, I'm happy to see the team playing like that, chasing 490 in the last innings after being out for 142 in the first innings.

"That was wonderful and that sets the tone for the series. At the moment, I could not explain how happy I am for the guys, especially for Asad.”

While he couldn't hold on against Australia at the Gabba, Shafiq has developed a reputation for carving out unlikely victories and fighting until the death.

At the 2011 World Cup, he hit a composed 46 to ensure Pakistan ended Australia's 34-match winning streak at the event.

And at Test level, he combined with Younis Khan in Cape Town to bat Pakistan out of trouble against South Africa in 2013.

Facing the formidable pace attack of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, Shafiq recorded his third Test ton - and his first outside the subcontinent - to help his side reach a respectable 338, after being 4-33.

Khan, a stalwart in the Pakistan team, earmarked Shafiq's ton as a turning point in his career.

"When a youngster like Asad Shafiq can also perform for the team that is a good sign,” Khan said.

Despite playing international cricket across all three formats, Shafiq has only recorded tons at Test level.

His Test average of 41.84 is some 15 runs better than his ODI equivalent, and double that of his average T20 score. It's also marginally higher than his first-class average of 40.06.

The chasm between his long-form and short-form averages may be explained by one thing: his batting position.

Accustomed to batting up the order in ODIs, Shafiq started at No.6 when he made his Test debut against South Africa in 2010 - and hasn't looked back.

His solid technique makes him the perfect candidate to occupy the position as a specialist batsman. So, too, does his ability to rotate the strike and protect the lower order, as he did at the Gabba.

"He's a special player. I've always rated him as a very fine player, because batting at No.6 is never easy,” his teammate Azhar Ali said.

"He bats at No.6 really well. He could be probably better than any of us (there). That's probably the reason he got back at No.6.

"Sometimes you have to make decisions according to the situation, according to the team plan.”


Asad Shafiq (Pakistan) - 9

Garry Sobers (West Indies) - 8

Shivnarine Chanderpaul (West Indies) - 7

Tony Greig (England) - 7

Ricky Ponting (Australia) - 7

Hashan Tillakaratne (Sri Lanka) - 7


Topics:  pakistan cricket

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