Abdullah Shafique’s father says he was moved to tears after his son’s dream Test debut for Pakistan.
The 22-year-old opener made a pair of half-centuries to help Pakistan beat Bangladesh in Chattogram earlier this week.
For the past 30 years, his father, Shafiq Ahmed, has lived in Dubai where he works as a cricket coach.
Because of the pandemic, he has not seen his family back in Pakistan – neither Abdullah, nor his other children Hasan and Zainab - in well over a year.
He spoke to him briefly after the Test success, and admitted he was overwhelmed by emotion.
“I told him that as his father, and for our community, I am very proud,” Shafiq said. “At that time, some water came into my eyes also.”
Shafiq Sr gets so nervous when his son plays that he rarely watches the matches live. Usually, that means busying himself with coaching his young charges at Gems Modern Academy in Dubai.
That was also the case while Abdullah was stitching together debut innings of 52 and 73, which his opening partner Abid Ali deemed “outstanding” efforts.
“Live, I didn’t watch it,” Shafiq said. “But once I had found out what was happening from the internet, I watched the highlights on YouTube. You could say our dream had come true.”
Shafiq, who says he is planning to go to Pakistan to see his family “in the near future”, preferred not to disturb his son during the course of the Test, but he says he did relay a couple of messages.
“I’ve spoken to him one or two times,” he said.
“I said, ‘I just want to pass on a message, no need to give me a call because I know you’re busy’. We don’t chat regularly because I don’t want to disturb him too much.
“During the match, I just passed a message on that when he faces the left-arm spinner, he should not play to the long-on [against the spin] across the line.
“He said, ‘But there was a gap there’. For Test-match cricket, you need the temperament where you wait and see.”
Although Shafiq is too nervous to watch his son play live, his brother, the former UAE batsman Arshad Ali, said he could not tear himself away from the Test match.
“I was watching and he batted beautifully,” Arshad said. “I was jumping, man – my nephew was playing better than me.
“We knew he was a talented boy, but in our countries – India and Pakistan – it is not easy to get chances.
“Shafiq was a very good cricketer himself. He played first-class cricket in Pakistan, scored 50 hundreds in UAE cricket. Then when I came here he trained me, and I became a good cricketer, too.
“Now, our young Abdullah is better than both of us.”