Ahmed Shehzad scored 131 runs from 233 balls during Pakistan's second innings in the first Test against Australia © Getty Images (File Photo)
Ahmed Shehzad scored 131 runs from 233 balls during Pakistan’s second innings in the first Test against Australia © Getty Images (File Photo)

Ahmed Shehzad has been a sensation for the Pakistan’s top batting order. His superb form off-late has proved that he deserves to be in the Pakistan squad and is a front-runner for the World Cup side, scheduled to get underway from early next year in Australia and New Zealand. It however, remains to be seen that whether he is a genuine player or is just going through a good phase, which would fade out at the crucial stage. Ayush Gupta delves into possible maturity the young batsman could have developed over the recent period.

Born on November 23, 1991 at Lahore, Pakistan, Ahmed Shahzad first made his competitive cricket debut with Habib Bank Limited in 2007 and then joined the Lahore Lions professional cricket team in 2008. A good domestic performance in the same year earned him his national call in 2009 against Australia in the One-Day International (ODI) series. He failed to record a big score and was dismissed cheaply in the first ODI.

However, he score big in the second and third match, but was dismissed early once again in the final ODI. The good performance in the series led to his call in the T20 side against the same team, where he failed to make a mark.

Despite his mixed performances, he was selected for the ICC World T20 in the same year, but a bad outing against England turned out to be his only match of the tournament. Although he was dropped from the ODI squad subsequently the following year, he represented the T20 squad for Pakistan throughout.

However, he played a number of ODIs in 2011 and scored his maiden century against New Zealand at Hamilton. He also played five matches during the 2011 ICC World Cup, but unimpressive performance led to him being dropped for the knock-out stages. He scored his second century in the same year against West Indies at Gros Islet, but failed to bolster again and was dropped for a whole year from the ODI squad.

Nevertheless, he was back in the year 2013 and played about 21 ODIs and scored two tons against South Africa and Sri Lanka respectively and five fifties in the sane year. This performance of his earned him a permanent national cap in the Pakistan ODI squad which clearly indicated that he did mature over time and had improved after every match.

In the present year, i.e. 2014, he has so far played 11 ODIs, scoring just one century against Bangladesh and three fifties. Although not as impressive as it was expected, but his contribution to the team as a whole has been really obliging and precious. He has played 51 ODIs in all, with an average of 34.40 and a strike-rate of 71.33 scoring 1720 runs.

Looking at his T20 performances so far, he has got just one century against Bangladesh this year. He thus became the first Pakistan player to score a ton in T20I and all the formats of the game, along with three fifties in the 27 T20Is with an average of 27.04 and a strike-rate of 119.85 scoring 676 runs. He also played a good knock during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) in 2012 for Barisal Burners as he scored 486 runs in 12 matches and was the top run-scorer of the tournament.

This consistent performance again proved his maturity and improvement in the game and in every format of the game, thus earning him a call for the Test squad in 2013 against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. He scored a half-century in the first match and got his first ever Test ton against the same team this year at Sharjah, scoring a brilliant knock of 147. He also scored his second century against Australia recently at Dubai. Overall, with six Test matches and 12 innings, he has scored 493 runs with an average of 41.08, which is quite impressive.

Thus, going by the records and stats discussed above, it can be said that although he was bit inconsistent in the initial stages, but has improved incredibly a time passed by and he kept on gathering more experience in different formats of the game. There is no doubt that he has and is still maturing after every game and would most probably also become the most dangerous batsman in the near future, if he continues to get better and better with each passing game.

Complete coverage of Pakistan vs Australia in UAE

(Ayush Gupta is a reporter at CricketCountry. A passionate supporter of Manchester United, he idolises Roger Federer)