Shaheen makes red ball cricket return with eyes on 100th Test wicket

1689228921 Shaheen makes red ball cricket return with eyes on 100th
Pakistans Shaheen Afridi balls during the second day of the two-day tour match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka Cricket Presidents XI at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota on July 12, 2023. — AFP/File
Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi balls in the course of the second day of the two-day tour match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka Cricket President’s XI on the Mahinda Rajapaksa Worldwide Cricket Stadium in Hambantota on July 12, 2023. — AFP/File

Pakistani pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi is making a return to the purple ball cricket within the two-match Take a look at sequence in opposition to Sri Lanka on the Mahinda Rajapaksa Worldwide Cricket Stadium, Hambantota.

What makes this return extra thrilling is the milestone in line, because the star seamer is only one wicket away from turning into the eleventh pacer from Pakistan to document a century of wickets in Take a look at cricket.

When Shaheen opened the bowling for Pakistan on Tuesday in a two-day warm-up fixture in opposition to the hosts, it was virtually after a 12 months that he had donned whites for his nation after injuring his knee within the first of the 2 Assessments at Galle final 12 months.

The proceedings had an analogous starting — searing tempo, deadly swing and the ball hitting exact lengths. He took three wickets for 36 runs in 12 overs, three of which had been maidens, as Pakistan bowled out the opposition for 196 earlier than tea within the first innings.

On the final day, he returned 4-2-2-1 because the hosts may solely handle 88 for 4 after Pakistan, in the back of half-centuries by Shan Masood, Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel, put 342.

“I’m very excited to be making my Take a look at comeback within the nation the place I used to be injured,” Shaheen advised PCB Digital in Hambantota.

“Accidents are a part of an athlete’s life, however it’s good to be again. I take pleasure in red-ball cricket loads and I’m one wicket away from a century of Take a look at wickets, which might be a giant achievement for me.”

The character of damage demanded his return be gradual and systematic, and he had not performed a first-class match for the reason that fourth morning of the primary Take a look at at Galle when he landed awkwardly on the boundary making an attempt to cease the ball.

He made his worldwide return within the ICC Males’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October final 12 months however twisted his knee within the closing, which noticed him miss the house sequence in opposition to England (Assessments) and New Zealand (Assessments and ODIs). 

He lastly returned earlier this 12 months for Lahore Qalandars to assist them retain the Pakistan Tremendous League title earlier than that includes in April’s 10-match limited-overs sequence in opposition to New Zealand.

Previous to being named within the Take a look at facet for these two Assessments, that are Pakistan’s first within the third cycle of the ICC World Take a look at Championship, Shaheen was turning out for Nottinghamshire, the place he ensured he met the specified workload ranges to get within the rhythm.

“It takes time to get used to red-ball cricket after taking part in white-ball,” he mentioned, including: “However the Karachi camp proved useful for me. Take a look at cricket calls for persistence and you need to work in partnerships with fellow bowlers. During the last 12 months, I’ve performed extra white-ball matches, however after I was taking part in in the UK, I bowled additional overs after matches — even with the purple ball — to fulfill the specified workload.

“It looks as if yesterday after I was injured. I can be making my Take a look at return on the similar floor the place I used to be injured. I used to be speaking to our physiotherapist about it.

“It’s a matter of delight to symbolize Pakistan in any format and I take pleasure in taking part in for Pakistan. I hope we could have a great starting to this cycle of the World Take a look at Championship and we are going to qualify for the ultimate, one thing we’ve missed on within the final two iterations,” the pacer mentioned.

Shaheen mentioned there was a whole lot of pleasure for the one centesimal wicket too, but it surely has been a protracted watch for the pacer.

“I used to be just one wicket away and the brand new ball was about to be out there,” he mentioned whereas recalling the primary Take a look at in opposition to Galle 12 months in the past.

“I used to be planning to utilise the brand new ball to achieve that milestone, however I acquired injured earlier than we acquired the brand new ball. So, I’ve needed to wait loads. It is rather robust to be away from cricket, however time has helped me be taught loads, which is able to assist me carry out nicely for Pakistan throughout codecs.”

His 99 wickets have are available solely 25 matches at a mean of 24.86. He additionally has 4 five-wicket hauls and one 10-for within the match. Shaheen, nevertheless, has added one other dimension to his recreation by strengthening his batting throughout rehabilitation.

His smoking 44 not out off simply 15 balls arrange Lahore Qalandars’ thrilling win over Multan Sultans within the PSL 8 closing and he let his slogging skills identified in worldwide enviornment when he smashed New Zealand’s Blair Tickner for 22 (three sixes and a 4) within the final over of the fourth One-Day Worldwide in Karachi to raise Pakistan to 334.

“I’m a bowler first,” he laughed. “However, every time I’ll get an opportunity to make an affect with the bat for my nation, I might achieve this.”