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Shafiq's maturity adds weight to Pakistan batting

india Updated: Mar 15, 2011 23:54 IST
Amol Karhadkar

The fact that their seven wicket victory against Zimbabwe confirmed that Pakistan would not return home at the end of the preliminary stage, like they did in the last two editions, would certainly have pleased the Men in Green. But what will be more pleasing is the manner in which rookie Asad Shafiq came good on his maiden Cup outing.

At 25, Shafiq is no youngster. And the Karachi comrade, who made his ODI debut during the last year's Asia Cup, displayed amply that he had few jitters when it came to facing a big match scenario. His experience of four consistent first-class seasons was evident during his unbeaten knock of 78 against Zimbabwe at the Pallekele International Stadium on Monday night.

Steady head
No doubt that he had little pressure on him when he took guard against Zimbabwe. With Pakistan chasing a moderate target of 162 off 38 overs, Shafiq could afford to take his time before starting to play his shots. His first 25 balls fetched just four singles, but once he was sure of the conditions, and more importantly his abilities, he started pushing the ball into gaps. What was even more impressive is that Shafiq didn't get tempted to play a big shot. As a result, instead of throwing his wicket away, not only did he register his personal best in his 14 ODIs but also made sure his team crossed the line in style.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis heaped praise on Shafiq. "He made a bit of difference," Waqar said. "He is very compact, played sensibly and in the future, I think, he is going to turn out to be one good player."

Shafiq's inclusion has made Pakistan's batting order, which was relying heavily on Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, a decent unit. Having succeeded against Zimbabwe, Shafiq's big test will be against Australia on Saturday.

Even Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher was looking forward to see how he copes with the pressure. "It was a pretty sensible innings. It wasn't under a huge amount of pressure, so I couldn't vouch for his temperament. But he looked a tidy player," Butcher said.