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