Pakistan‘s 18-year-old left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi said he did not expect a red-ball opportunity to arise so early in his career after finding himself in line for Test debut against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi.
A shoulder injury to seamer Mohammad Abbas in the second Test in Dubai means Shaheen is all but certain to play the third Test which starts on Monday with the series locked at 1-1.
“If I get a chance I will do my best,” Shaheen was quoted as saying by AFP. “I always had belief in my ability and in my hard work although I didn’t expect my chance will come in Tests so early.”
The 18-year-old made his mark in domestic cricket last year, picking up 8-39 in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy – the best figures by a Pakistan bowler on first-class debut.
Shaheen then finished with 12 wickets at the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand earlier in the year and followed it up with a five-wicket haul in a PSL match. Shaheen made his Pakistan debut at home in a Twenty20 series against the West Indies in March. He came into his own against New Zealand in last month’s ODI series where he took successive four wicket hauls and was declared player of the series.
The youngster was named in the Test squad for the New Zealand series only with the aim of developing his cricket rather than fielding him in a match. However, after Shaheen snared seven wickets – five of them clean bowled – in Pakistan A’s win over England Lions in their four-day match in Abu Dhabi last month and Abbas became unfit, the management warmed up to the idea of playing him.
Shaheen, just like legendary left-arm quick Wasim Akram, has played just three first-class matches before what should be his first Test.
“Test cricket is the ultimate so matching the great Wasim’s feat will motivate me a lot and just like I do in limited over matches, I will try to take wickets for my team to win the series,” said Shaheen.
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