Abdullah Shafique has had a brilliant start to his Test career, and he is averaging over 75 after playing six matches.
In a game with too many twists and turns, the final say belonged to Pakistan, as they completed a memorable four-wicket win in Galle to take a 1-0 lead in the series. From seven down at 85 at one point, it seemed Pakistan had no chance against the Sri Lankan spinners.
But Abdullah Shafique, the latest batting sensation playing his sixth Test, stood his ground for over 500 minutes to guide Pakistan to an improbable victory. On a raging turner in Galle, Shafique showed composure and grit that defied his age. He played over 400 balls for his well-made 160, comprising of seven fours and a six.
Shafique first gave Pakistan a solid start by stitching an 87-run opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq, then forged a crucial partnership with Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan. Both Azam and Rizwan were dismissed by Prabath Jayasuriya, who finished the game with nine wickets to his name.
Although Jayasuriya posed too many problems to most of the batters, he looked almost toothless against Shafique, whose water-tight technique against spin was a sight to behold.
Never before in the history of Galle, a target of more than 300 had been chased. The previous highest was 268, chased by Sri Lanka against New Zealand. Known for producing extravagant turn and bounce for spinners, Galle is a graveyard for the batters in the fourth innings.
Thus even though Pakistan needed just over 100 runs on the final day, the match still looked miles away from their reach. Desperate to break the Rizwan-Shafique partnership, Sri Lanka burned two reviews in the morning session itself.
After Rizwan was dismissed by Jayasuriya, Shafique got a little help from Mohammad Nawaz, who scored an unbeaten 19 and prevented another lower-order collapse.
Shafique, meanwhile, has had a brilliant start to his Test career, and is averaging over 75 after playing six matches. In his debut Test, he scored a half-century in each innings, and took just two more matches to reach his first international hundred.
Featured Image Credit: Babar Azam/Twitter