Following Central Punjab"s remarkable run chase against Southern Punjab yesterday, in which 20-year old Abdullah Shafique smashed a debut hundred, ESPNcricinfo sheds some light on who he is, and what you need to know about him.
Who is Abdullah Shafique?
Well, for starters, he is not related to Asad Shafiq - but hey, he scored a T20 hundred and played a match-winning innings, so you may have guessed that. He"s no relation to Shafiq Papa either, the first class legend who soared to fame off the back of his domestic exploits. He does have cricket running in his blood, though, with his father, Shafiq Ahmed, also having played first-class cricket in Pakistan. Besides, his uncle, Arshad Ali, has played international cricket for the UAE.
He is a 20 year old from Sialkot who represented the Sialkot Region at U-16 and U-19 levels while honing his craft at the Amir Waseem cricket academy. The academy, founded by the man it was named after, has produced several reputable cricketers for Pakistan.
Why are we talking about him?
Well why wouldn"t we? Making his T20 debut in the National T20 Cup yesterday, he batted alongside arguably the best domestic T20 batsman Pakistan has ever had in Kamran Akmal - a man twice his age - and outshone him comprehensively en route to a daunting chase of 201. While Akmal led the way with 75 off 41, Shafique was by no means content to play second fiddle, sticking around after Akmal had been dismissed, and finishing the job off, reaching a 55-ball hundred in the process. He smashed four sixes and 11 fours against a bowling attack that includes Mohammad Irfan, Umer Khan and Aamer Yamin, and began his innings by staring down a hat-trick ball in the first over.
Why, indeed, are we talking about anything else?
Well, that"s not too bad, but maybe this was a one-off? Lightning doesn"t strike twice.
Well, lightning has struck at least twice. He has only ever played one first-class match, called up to the first XI for a Quaid-e-Azam trophy match, also against Southern Punjab - maybe he really likes these Punjab derbies. He scored 133 in the only innings he batted, and thus yesterday, became the first Pakistan player, and just the second in cricket history, to manage debut hundreds at both first-class and T20 level.
Were people in Pakistan impressed?
He got some live appreciation from the most prominent cricketers in Pakistan while he was at the crease. Mohammad Hafeez praised his batting technique and "process to score runs", while the Pakistan Test captain Azhar Ali simply remarked "what a knock!" That sort of attention should do his prospects no harm, particularly if he can carry on how he begun at this National T20 Cup.
So if he"s this good, can we see him at the PSL please?
Well, now you can certainly expect him to. He was actually snapped up by Multan Sultans three years ago at the draft before he had even turned 18. While that didn"t result in any appearances, don"t be surprised if he"s much hotter property for next season"s draft.