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Galle, July 16 – Pakistani fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi on Sunday claimed his 100 Test wicket, becoming the 19th player of the Green Shirts to achieve this feat, during his team’s first match against Sri Lanka at Galle International Stadium, here.
Afridi dismissed Sri Lanka opener Nishan Madushka in the second over of the game to achieve the feat.
The 23-year old officially made a comeback to Test cricket after he opened the bowling for tourists on the day one of the first Test. He is playing in Tests for Pakistan after almost a year since he injured his knee caused by landing awkwardly at boundary trying to stop the ball in the first of the two Tests against Sri Lanka at Galle last year.
The pacer made his international return for the Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October last year, but twisted that previously-injured right knee in the final, which saw him miss the home series against England (Tests) and New Zealand (Tests and ODIs).
He finally returned to cricketing action earlier this year for Lahore Qalandars to help them retain their Pakistan Super League title before featuring in a 10-match limited overs series against New Zealand in April.
“I am very excited to be making my Test comeback in the country where I was injured. Injuries are part of an athlete’s life, but it is good to be back. I enjoy red-ball cricket a lot and I am one wicket away from a century of Test wickets, which would be a big achievement for me,” Shaheen told PCB Digital in Hambantota on Thursday.
“There is a lot of excitement (for that 100th wicket). I was only one wicket away and the new ball was about to be available. I was planning to utilise the new ball (at Galle last year) to reach that milestone. But I got injured before we got the new ball. So, I have had to wait a lot. It is very tough to be away from cricket, but time has helped me learn a lot, which will help me perform well for Pakistan across formats,” he added.
Prior to being named in the Test side for two Tests against Sri Lanka, which is Pakistan’s first series in the third cycle of the ICC World Test Championship, Shaheen was turning out for Nottinghamshire in England, where he ensured he met the desired workload levels to get in the rhythm.
“It takes time to get used to red-ball cricket after playing white-ball. But the Karachi camp proved beneficial for me. Test cricket demands patience and you have to work in partnerships with fellow bowlers,” Shaheen said.
“Over the last year, I have played more white-ball matches, but when I was playing in the United Kingdom, I bowled extra overs after matches — even with the red ball — to meet the desired workload,” he added.