Pakistan thriving under Sarfraz’s leadership: Asad Shafiq

Middle-order batsman praises wicketkeeper-batsman’s aggressive approach in interview

Pakistan thriving under Sarfraz’s leadership: Asad Shafiq Photo: AFP

Pakistan middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq is enjoying playing under Safraz Ahmed and believes that the entire team is reaping the rewards of his aggressive style.

“Not just me, but the entire Pakistan team has benefitted from playing under Sarfraz,” said Shafiq in an interview with Daily Express. “I have known Sarfraz from a very long time and I don’t find his attitude different in both domestic and international cricket. His aggressive intent brings positivity to the side and hopefully Pakistan will keep on doing well while he is captain.”

Shafiq — who has 11 hundreds and 20 half-centuries in Test matches — prefers to keep the team’s objectives ahead of his personal achievements, however, he did stress on the importance of improving his conversion rate.

“As a team we were able to achieve our goals but as a player I was not able to perform too well,” he said. “I haven’t set any specific targets as far as runs and matches are concerned because my only aim is to come up with good performances.”

“I wanted to, at least, score one century on the tour however, unfortunately, that did not happen. But as long as the team’s objectives are achieved, that is enough for me; my personal milestones are secondary in nature. I will try not to repeat mistake of throwing away my wickets once I get past the half-century mark,” he said.

When asked about filling the void left by Misbahul Haq and Younis Khan, Shafiq said that he — along with Azhar Ali — are trying their best to shoulder the massive responsibility.

“Azhar and I were not under pressure because we have to fill in the shoes of greats like Misbah and Younis, but we are doing our best we can to shoulder this responsibility and let’s hope it works out well,” he said.

The right-handed batsman has played the majority of domestic cricket batting higher up the order, but was not too concerned about his batting position when playing for Pakistan.

“I have always enjoyed batting at higher positions because that is where I batted in domestic cricket, but when you play for Pakistan, it is important to adapt and play according to the requirements of the team rather than doing what personally suits me,” he said.

Regarding his county stint in England, Shafiq said: “One county needed my services immediately, which was not possible due my visa issues. I’m waiting for the response from the other side and hopefully it will be a positive one.” 

Shafiq also said that head coach Mickey Arthur’s influence on the side has been immense since taking charge of the side in May 2016.

“One of Arthur’s greatest quality is the ability to buck up players even when they have not been performing well which is why players gain a lot of confidence and want to continue working under his guidance,” he said.

Shafiq is also looking forward to making a comeback in the shorter formats of the game after citing improvements in his game in the limited-overs formats.

“I have made a strong case for my selection by scoring runs in both one-day competitions organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and hopefully I will get my chance to represent Pakistan in the shorter formats. I don’t care if people only consider me as a Test player because I have been working hard to improve my game and will continue to do so in the future,” he said.

He added: “I have developed my game to suit T20 cricket and my performances during the National T20 Cup was pretty good despite not being amongst the runs for Quetta Gladiators in the Pakistan Super League.”

Speaking about the decline of Test cricket, Shafiq said that the purists still tend to follow the longest format of the game and International Cricket Council’s (ICC) measures to add more context to Test cricket is a step in the right direction.

“The beauty of cricket lies in Test cricket and there is still sufficient interest left in the game,” he said. “Fans these days tend to prefer the shorter and more entertaining formats but the purists still follow the five-day game. ICC is making adjustments to make Test cricket more appealing by taking measures such as the Test championship which is a good sign.”

He added: “I want to play Test cricket in front of Pakistan fans because the satisfaction it brings cannot be compared with that of a foreign country. Even if you ask other Pakistan cricketers, they all share a similar feeling with regards to playing Test matches on home soil.”