Uncapped Pakistan batsman Abdullah Shafique has described former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting as his batting inspiration as he prepares for the forthcoming home series against Zimbabwe.
Shafique etched his name in the record books last month when he hammered a match-winning ton for Central Punjab on T20 debut. The triple-figure score achieved by Shafique helped him become just the second player in history to make a century on both first-class and T20 debut.
The 20-year-old from Sialkot added two more 50+ scores to his prolific National T20 Cup season with the bat that culminated in a maiden call-up to the national side for the white-ball fixtures against Zimbabwe.
"Ricky Ponting is my inspiration and I try to play like him. I like the way he used to play the pull shot and the high backlift in his technique," Shafique told reporters in a virtual media interaction. "I believe my strength is the pull and cut shot. Since I play in the top-order, you have to be good at these strokes."
"In the Pakistan team, I admire Babar Azam and will try to get tips from him during the camp for the Zimbabwe series in order to improve my game," he added.
Shafique's attacking approach and style of play paid dividends for him in the domestic T20 competition. The precociously gifted individual was thus keen to make sure he would not be overwhelmed by a possible international debut and rush himself into tweaking his technique.
"I have done a lot of hard work to get here so I don't doubt my style of play and will rely on my strengths to find success.
"The management has supported me and given me confidence so I don't feel nervous about the new experience of international cricket," Shafique emphasised.
Although the right-handed batsman shone throughout Central Punjab's ordinary campaign, Shafique modestly admitted he wasn't expecting to be promoted to the top level at this stage.
"I didn't really expect to be included in the team, hence I was very excited and happy when my name was announced as part of the probables. The aim of any young cricketer is to represent his country at the highest level...this was my dream as well. Luckily, I have now gotten a chance."
Hailing from a cricketing family, Shafique also shed light on the influence of his father – a former first-class cricketer – on his ambitions and career choice.
Furthermore, Shafique optimistically reflected on the seemingly exuberant dynamic of having a young leadership group for the shorter formats.
"We have a young captain [Babar Azam] and vice-captain [Shadab Khan] in the team, which is an encouraging sign for all the budding talents in the squad," he said.