Yasir Shah not only gave Pakistan the early advantage on the first day of their first Test against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (September 28), when he caught Lahiru Thirimanne lbw, he also became the joint second fastest to claim 150 Test wickets.
Yasir got to the mark in his 27th Test, equalling the record of his compatriot Waqar Younis. Sydney Barnes, the English medium pacer from the early 1900s, holds the record for the fastest 150 wickets in Tests, getting to the milestone in just his 24th Test in Durban in 1913.
Just last week it was feared that Pakistan would have to play the Sri Lanka Test series without Yasir Shah, after the legspinner had failed to meet the fitness standards used as a benchmark for selection at the moment.
The announcement of the squad was delayed for a day as a result, and Yasir was given a last chance to pass the test. Fortunately for Pakistan, he did; perhaps some leeway was given to him because of the fear that without him, Pakistan would not be able to get 20 wickets.
Fastest to 150 Test wickets (in terms of matches played)
|24||Sydney Barnes (England)|
|27||Waqar Younis (Pakistan) and Yasir Shah (Pakistan)|
|28||Clarrie Grimmett (Australia)|
|29||Hugh Tayfield (South Africa), Ian Botham (England), Dale Steyn (South Africa), Saeed Ajmal (Pakistan) and R Ashwin (India) have all reached the mark in 29 Tests|
Yasir often gets out of shape when he doesn’t play. Before the tour of the Caribbean earlier this year, he was found to be overweight when he joined the training camp late. Even Shaharyar Khan, then the Pakistan Cricket Board chief, had warned that the team management would not tolerate unfit players.
But Yasir went on that tour and took 25 wickets in the series to anchor Pakistan’s 2-1 win.
Since making his Test debut against Australia in Dubai in 2014, Yasir has been the main wicket-taker for Pakistan in the format – he even took 19 wickets in Pakistan’s 2-2 series draw in England last year. That result briefly lifted Pakistan to the No. 1 spot in the Test rankings, and also brought a national cricketer of the year award for Yasir.
Yasir, incidentally, was also the second joint fastest to 100 Test wickets, reaching the mark in 17 Tests last year. George Lohmann, the English medium pacer of the 19th century, reached the mark in just 16 Tests, while the Australian duo of Charlie Turner and Clarrie Grimmett and Yasir got to the mark in 17 Tests.