Image taken by: Bimal Mirwani
Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, has brushed off criticism about whether opening batsman Abdullah Shafique fits in the national team.
His comments come after Shafique stole the spotlight in Pakistan’s six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Handed the chance to open the batting after replacing Fakhar Zaman, the 23-year-old hammered a career-best 113, which came off 103 balls and included 10 boundaries and three sixes.
Thanks to his maiden ODI century, the men in green chased down a mammoth target of 345, making it the high successful run chase in World Cup history.
Shafique has also made the most of his opportunities in Test cricket, where he averages 50.83 after scoring 1,220 runs in 14 matches.
Azam pointed out that the Sialkot native has worked hard on his batting and has proven he deserves to be one of Pakistan’s go-to openers following a series of strong performances.
“There was a lot of talk on Abdullah Shafique that he’s not fitting in this side but I think as a player, this situation comes on you,” he was quoted as saying by Cricwick. “I think a lot of credit should be given to him for handling all of this.
“I have received a lot of feedback on him and his hard work, he used to bat for two sessions and whenever you work hard, it is never wasted. And he has got the reward.”
Shafique recently made 228 runs in two Tests against Sri Lanka, which included a career-best 201, at an average of 76.
He didn’t feature in the three-match ODI series against Afghanistan that followed, but did get chance to feature in Pakistan’s loss to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup.
During that game, Shafique made the most of his opportunity as he struck 52 runs.
Pakistan are now in a good position in the World Cup as they also won their opening match against the Netherlands by 81 runs.
Their next game will be against India on October 14 in Ahmedabad.
Pakistan Squad for 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan, Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Hasan Ali