Pak vs SL: Shaheen Shah Afridi bags 100th Test wicket

Pakistani pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi has taken a total of 100 Test wickets, becoming the 19th player of the Green Shirts to have achieved this feat.

The pacer’s feat came during Pakistan’s match against Sri Lanka, when he dismissed Nishan Madushka in the second over of the first Test match at Galle.

The speedster officially made a comeback to Test cricket on Sunday, when he opened the bowling for tourists on the day one of the first Test at the ICC World Test Championship 2023-25 that marked the start of action-packed 2023-24 international cricket season for the home side.

It was almost after a year that Shaheen had donned whites for his country after injuring his knee in the first of the two Tests at Galle last year.

“I am very excited to be making my Test comeback in the country where I was injured,” the seamer told PCB Digital in Hambantota on Thursday before bowling at the two-day warm-up fixture against the hosts at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium.

The nature of injury demanded his return be gradual and systematic, and he had not played a first-class match since the fourth morning of the first Test at Galle when he landed awkwardly at the boundary trying to stop the ball.

He made his international return in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October last year but twisted his knee in the final, which saw him miss the home series against England (Tests) and New Zealand (Tests and ODIs).

He finally returned earlier this year for Lahore Qalandars to help them retain the Pakistan Super League title before featuring in April’s 10-match limited-overs series against New Zealand.

Prior to being named in the Test side for these two Tests, which are Pakistan’s first in the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship, Shaheen was turning out for Nottinghamshire, where he ensured he met the desired workload levels to get in the rhythm.

The seamer said there was a lot of excitement for the 100th wicket too, but it has been a long wait for the pacer.

“I was only one wicket away and the new ball was about to be available,” he said while recalling the first Test against Galle 12 months ago.

“I was planning to utilise the new ball to reach that milestone, but I got injured before we got the new ball,” he added.

Shaheen’s 99 wickets have come in only 25 matches at an average of 24.86. He also has four five-wicket hauls and one 10-for in the match. Shaheen, however, has added another dimension to his game by strengthening his batting during rehabilitation.

His smoking 44 not out off just 15 balls set up Lahore Qalandars’ thrilling win over Multan Sultans in the PSL 8 final and he let his slogging abilities known in the international arena when he smashed New Zealand’s Blair Tickner for 22 (three sixes and a four) in the last over of the fourth One-Day International in Karachi to lift Pakistan to 334.

“I am a bowler first,” he laughed. “But, whenever I will get a chance to make an impact with the bat for my country, I would do so.”

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