December 7, 2023

In 2002, throughout one among his two annual visits to Sialkot, Shafiq Ahmed noticed his three-year-old son, Abdullah Shafique, taking part in with a plastic bat. Shafiq senior, himself a former first-class cricketer from Pakistan, couldn’t consider how pure his son was. He took him out within the yard of their home and began to provide underarm throw downs. By no means did his son play a cross-batted shot.

“I used to be shocked. The session lasted for one and half hours earlier than my spouse took him away,” Shafiq tells The Indian Specific from Dubai.

The 57-year-old, moved to UAE within the early Nineteen Nineties. He has been concerned in teaching for the previous 30 years however sadly, due to his work, he was by no means capable of give full-time teaching to his personal son. Nevertheless, he doesn’t remorse it in any respect.

“I moved to Dubai to play the membership cricket. My cousin Arshad Ali was taking part in for UAE. I grew to become a coach. I seen one thing is particular about him when he was three. Let me be very sincere: I guided him however I used to be by no means his coach. he managed every little thing on his personal. I do attempt to give my inputs, however it’s all his laborious work,” he says.

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IND vs PAK Pakistan’s Abdullah Shafique celebrates his century throughout the ICC Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Hyderabad, India, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. (AP Photograph/ Mahesh Kumar A.)

Rising up, Abdullah would watch Virat Kohli’s movies on YouTube, when he was simply beginning to make his title in worldwide cricket. Abdullah will decide every little thing his idol would do, even Kohli’s ‘helmet twitch,’ after he used to hit a boundary.

“He adores Kohli. Within the early 2010s, he’ll google every little thing about him. What he eats, his health regime, what he doesn’t eat. His head place, his elbow, the helmet twitch, Virat used to do. He’ll get unhappy when he fails. You’ll be able to’t blame him … Koi Virat se bada participant is technology mey hua kahaan (For this technology Virat Kohli is the best cricketer),” recollects Shafiq.

Abdullah, given a tag of red-ball cricketer after a number of failures within the ODIs and T20Is early on, has proven his class with a elegant 113 towards Sri Lanka in Hyderabad within the World Cup. With that knock, he has solved Pakistan’s headache on the high order. He was glorious throughout his 52 towards Sri Lanka within the Asia Cup as effectively however the Pakistan group wished to given Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman a go, since they had been a settled pair.

On Friday, in all probability taking part in the largest match of his profession in Ahmedabad, Abdullah may have an opportunity to fulfill his idol and maybe even present his batting masterclass to Kohli and the 100,000 spectators within the crowd.

“I hope he goes and talks to Virat. He’s a shy child. I hope somebody will push him to take action,” says Shafiq.

The expertise was at all times there in Abdullah, however he mastered it with dealing with 500-600 deliveries daily with defaulted leather-based balls. Shafiq narrates the story of why he by no means purchased his son an ideal leather-based ball.

“At Sialkot, the unique leather-based ball would value 400 PKR, and he’ll change the form of it in per week. He was 16, when he bought picked for the Sialkot U-19 group. I rushed to a buddy, who has a producing manufacturing unit. Whereas I used to be negotiating with him for the cricketing gears, I noticed a number of defected balls, mendacity at one nook. Out of curiosity, I requested him how a lot for these. He says these are ineffective, if you need I may give it to you for 100 bucks. I purchased 300 balls and went residence,” he says.

“Enjoying with the defected balls, improved his method. The ball will hit the seam and can climb on him, as a result of many of the balls the seams was once disrupted. He grew to become watchful,” he provides.

That’s the place the focus and temperament in Abdullah’s batting got here from.

Nevertheless, Shafiq desires his son to attain a minimum of 10,000 Take a look at runs after the beginning he has bought. He doesn’t need him to play an excessive amount of T20 cricket. Shafique has revamped 1200 runs in simply 14 Take a look at matches for Pakistan at an outstanding common of fifty.83 with 4 a whole bunch, together with a double.

“The long run is T20 cricket and these days, each skilled cricketer desires to play franchise cricket. He loves Take a look at cricket however he desires to do effectively in T20 cricket as effectively. He is part of Lahore Qalandars for the previous couple of seasons. I sincerely, hope the T20 won’t corrupt his method. Take a look at cricket se bada kuch hai kya (Is there something larger than Take a look at cricket,” says Shafiq.

Abullah’s 113 off 103 towards Sri Lanka has earned him plaudits again residence. Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar would go so far as calling Shafique just like nationwide group captain Babar Azam.

“Babaz Azam jaisa hume ek aur participant mil chuka hai (we’ve discovered a participant similar to Babar Azam),” stated Akhtar on his Youtube channel.

Former Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq would additionally credit score Shafique for shouldering the run-chase towards Sri Lanka. Misbah stated: “Abdullah Shafique – the Take a look at cricket he’s performed, his method – he displayed all of it. Crucial factor although was his studying of the sport, which we don’t usually affiliate with our gamers after they come on the worldwide scene.”

Nevertheless Shafiq charges his son’s 160 not out at Galle Take a look at towards Sri Lanka, his finest knock to this point.

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“I’m not exaggerating it however I’ve by no means seen a Pakistani cricketer taking part in that form of a knock on that sort pitch within the fourth innings, chasing 342 runs. He remained unbeaten on 160, confronted 408 balls, curbed his attacking intuition, and helped Pakistan win the match by 4 wickets. I’ll rank that knock above any ODI or T20 century he’ll ever rating,” laughs Shafiq.

Shafiq by no means watches his son’s batting. He solely watches the highlights, if he has completed effectively, then he’ll watch the replay, make notes after which give his enter to his son.

“I’ll swap my cellphone tomorrow. I’ll go someplace. I typically don’t watch his batting. I’ve spoken to him a few occasions. He’s having fun with India. He’s hungry to do effectively, and I hope he will get to see some historic locations in that stunning nation. I’ve been to India 4 occasions, I’ve so many buddies in Delhi and Mumbai. I hope he makes buddies as effectively,” he says.

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