ABU DHABI: On the fourth morning of the final Test in Abu Dhabi against New Zealand, Yasir Shah did not merely break an 82-year-old record, he smashed it. By dismissing William Somerville roughly half an hour into the morning, he picked up his 200th Test wicket in just his 33rd Test. That breaks the record for the fastest to 200 Test wickets, so long held by another legspinner, Clarrie Grimmett who reached the mark in his 36th Test.
The wicket came in trademark Yasir style, the key to it the pace at which it was bowled, breaking a little but hurrying onto Somerville’s pads. The batsmen had a discussion, but ultimately decided not to take a review.
By then Yasir had already been engulfed by his team-mates, performing the sajda in the process of acknowledging the landmark. As has been the case with so many of Pakistan’s greatest moments in the UAE, barely a handful of people were present at the ground to witness it.
Given his form in this series it was inevitable Yasir would break the record at some point during the Test. And on the first day it looked as if he would have it wrapped by the afternoon. He took three quick wickets in the hour before lunch as New Zealand slipped from 70 for 1 to 72 for 4. But he was to pick up no more in that innings, Bilal Asif instead ending up with a five-for. Already his 27th wicket of the series, with more batsmen to come, he could also break another Pakistan record, for most wickets in a three-Test series. That has been held by another legspinner, Abdul Qadir who took 30 wickets against England in 1987-88.
This series has been an especially rich one for Yasir, and a welcome return to the wickets after an unusually quiet start to the season. Returning from a hip injury that forced him to miss the tour of Ireland and England earlier this year, Yasir looked understandably rusty against Australia last month. A relatively small haul of eight wickets in two Tests included the first time had gone wicketless in an innings in the UAE.
But he has looked like the old Yasir again at times in this series and indeed in the second Test in Dubai, bowled as good a spell as he has ever bowled. He ended with 14 wickets in the Test, only the second Pakistani to take as many, after Imran Khan.
As well as being the quickest to 200, Yasir was the joint second-fastest to 100 Test wickets (in 17 Tests) and the fastest Pakistani to 50 Test wickets (in nine Tests).
Imran Khan congratulates
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday congratulated leg-spinner Yasir Shah on breaking an 82-year-old world record in cricket, becoming the first bowler to take 200 Test wickets in 33 matches.
The 32-year-old broke the record held by Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett ─ who took 200 wickets in 36 Test matches in 1936 against South Africa in Johannesburg ─ on the fourth day of the third Test against New Zealand on Thursday.
“Congratulations to Yasir Shah,” the premier tweeted. “Last week he had equalled my record of 14 wickets in a Test match. Stellar performance.”
Yasir, whose 14 wickets helped Pakistan level the series 1-1 in Dubai, now has 27 wickets in the three Tests against New Zealand. Yasir was also the fastest Pakistani to 50 wickets (nine Tests). He reached 100 wickets in 17 Tests — second only to Englishman George Lohmann who took 16 matches during a Test in Johannesburg in 1896.