Two ways of look­ing Asad Shafiq's 11th Test hun­dred in Dubai

Daily Messenger - - Sportlight -

ISLAMABAD: There are two ways of look­ing at Asad Shafiq's 11th Test hun­dred in Dubai. One, that it was a good thing, given his 10th had come al­most a year ago, and he'd not even reached fifty in his last 11 in­nings. The other way to look at it is that this was an­other hun­dred in a lost cause, of which he now has five.

And he has them in all shades: a dif­fi­cult firstin­nings hun­dred in South Africa that should've won Pak­istan a Test; two point- less last-in­nings hun­dreds in in­nings de­feats; and now two heroic fourth-in­nings hun­dreds that fell just short in tak­ing Pak­istan home in big chases. This one, and the last at the Gabba, are the ones that have stung the most. As he walked away from the post-Test press con­fer­ence on Tues­day, he couldn't help but re­fer to the Gabba and this, and won­der. It has stung.

Still, a re­turn to runs is a re­turn to runs, es­pe­cially for a player who has been through such a lean run. And it is runs rather than form - at least through this se­ries, and even the Tests in the West Indies, Shafiq did not look like he was do­ing some­thing glar­ingly wrong.

Since the be­gin­ning of this slump, af­ter a 50 in the first in­nings at the MCG on Box­ing Day last year, only twice did his stay at the crease last less than half an hour. In this se­ries his short­est stay was for 52 min­utes. So he has looked more or less okay, just that he has been get­ting out.

Coach and cap­tain - sit- ting next to him at the press con­fer­ence - have been noth­ing less than un­equiv­o­cal in their back­ing. Ev­ery new dis­missal un­der 50 has brought out the same sup­port - he is fine, he just needs one in­nings to break through.

Per­haps it was the sit­u­a­tion of the game when he ar­rived (turgid start, in trou­ble at 49 for 3, chas­ing 317), or his own run, or likely a com­bi­na­tion of both, but it was his most as­sertive start in some time.

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