Shaheen Afridi seeks ‘big achievement’ on Test return
Pakistan strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi will seek to take his 100th Test wicket in the first Test against Sri Lanka starting in Galle on Sunday, a year after he was injured at the same ground.
Shaheen was on 99 Test wickets when he was injured landing awkwardly at the boundary line trying to stop the ball, and it will be his first outing in the long form of the game since then.
"Injuries are a part of an athlete's life, but it is good to be back," he told AFP at the end of Pakistan's two-day warm-up fixture against a Sri Lanka Cricket President's XI, which ended in a draw at Hambantota.
The century of Test wickets "would be a big achievement for me" and he has had an extended wait to reach the milestone, he added.
"It's tough to be away from cricket, but time has helped me learn a lot."
The two sides are both shadows of the Test powers they once were, and are beginning the long quest to try to qualify for the next ICC World Test Championship final, to be held in 2025.
The hosts are in seventh place and the visitors sixth in the current ICC Test rankings.
In last year's series, Pakistan won the first Test by four wickets while Sri Lanka won the second by 246 to square the series, with Shaheen out of the attack. Both matches were played in Galle.
In the recent warm-up match Shaheen bowled at searing pace with lethal seam, taking three wickets for 36 in 12 overs as Pakistan dismissed the opposition for 196.
"I am very excited to be making my Test comeback in the country where I was injured," he said.
Sri Lanka will be looking to replace Asitha Fernando, who has gone down with dengue fever, with uncapped left-arm pacer Dilshan Madushanka.
Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the other new face in the hosts' squad.