Leg-spinner Yasir Shah is set to become the fastest bowler to reach 200 Test wickets as he holds the key for Pakistan to win the series-deciding third and final Test against New Zealand starting in Abu Dhabi from Monday.
The 32-year-old needs just five wickets to shatter Australian leg-spinner Clarrie Grimmett’s record of completing 200 wickets in 36 Tests, way back in 1936.
That will be icing on the cake as Pakistan hope Yasir — whose 14 wicket match haul crushed New Zealand to an innings and 16 run defeat in the second Test in Dubai — can come good again.
Yasir took eight wickets in the first Test here but Pakistan fell agonisingly short, losing by four runs before leveling the series at 1-1.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed agreed hopes are pinned on Yasir, who has 195 wickets in 32 Tests.
“The way Yasir is bowling he has got his rhythm back and we hope that with the return of his form he will do his best to win us this Test and the series,” said Sarfraz on Sunday.
Until last year the Sheikh Zayed stadium had been a happy hunting ground for Pakistan, having won six of the ten Tests with four draws.
But they lost to Sri Lanka last year and against New Zealand after set low targets of 136 and 176 runs respectively, a fact Sarfraz said hurt his team.
“We need to bat long and that we did in the last Test,” said Sarfraz whose team put a big 418-5 declared in Dubai. “The toss will again be crucial because in Asia teams like to bat first and post big totals.”