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Abdullah Shafique making habit of great first impressions – SUCH TV

Abdullah Shafique has a habit of making great first impressions, the latest of which came on Tuesday when he became the first Pakistan batsman to make a century on his World Cup debut in an epic pursuit against Sri Lanka.

Called up to replace the out-of-form Fakhar Zaman, the 23-year-old opener clubbed 113 and with a cramping Mohammad Rizwan (131 not out) helped Pakistan reach their 345-run target, the highest successful run chase in World Cup history.

“The way Abdullah built the innings in the beginning, the kind of shots he hit, made it easy for us to chase the score,” said Rizwan.

Shafique has become accustomed to making instant impacts. He scored a hundred on his domestic Grade-II debut (non-first class), notched another century on his first-class debut in 2019 and a year later achieved the same feat in Twenty20 cricket.

Shafique is only the second batsman in the world to have hit a hundred on first-class and T20 debut, along with India’s Shivam Bhambri.

His talents for the big stage were spotted early on by former Pakistan player Mansoor Rana, a former Pakistan team manager.

“We selected him for Under-19s as I saw enormous talent in this boy,” said Rana.

“He is better than anyone technique-wise but the problem was he didn’t score runs initially,” explained Rana, the son of former international umpire Shakoor.

After his T20 debut hundred, the then-head coach Misbahul Haq selected him in the shortest format but Shafique failed with four successive ducks.

He was backed despite his failures, making him a target for critics who accused him of receiving preferential treatment.

“I noticed that this boy had good technique and temperament. He has a repertoire of shots for every pitch,” said Misbah.

“At his age, Shafique has superb qualities and that is why I backed him,” he added.

Shafique finally came good in Tests, hitting a hundred against Australia and England, and two against Sri Lanka including a double ton in July this year.

“Shafique benefitted from regular chances. During Covid, he worked very hard indoors and that period allowed him to improve,” said Rana.

Barely a month out from the World Cup, Shafique was not even in the squad.

However, with concerns over Zaman’s lack of runs, the Pakistan team management selected him as a backup.

Next up for Shafique, another first — facing old rivals India in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

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