Yasir Shah, the wily Pakistan legspinner, expressed his hope for a Test face-off with R Ashwin in a battle of two fast wicket-taking spinners.
Shah became the joint second fastest to 100 wickets in Tests when he took 5 for 121 in his 17th match against West Indies in the first day-night Test in Dubai on Sunday (October 16). England’s George Lohmann holds the record of fastest to 100 wickets, when he completed the tally in his 16th Test in 1896.
Ashwin became the second fastest to 200 wickets, in 37 Tests, during the recently concluded home series against New Zealand. He had wished Shah “best of luck” in a tweet last week. “Good luck, may the force be with him. He is such a delight to watch,” he said in a tweet.
Shah said Ashwin’s message was an inspiration. “Yes, he had said good luck so I am thankful,” said Shah said of the Indian’s tweet. “It’s naturally motivating when a great bowler, who is second fastest to 200, tweets a good luck message. It’s really a great motivation for me.”
After Shah reached 100 wickets, Ashwin once again took to Twitter on Sunday. “Just a little late I guess, but very well done @Shah64Y double it up now.”
Shah had 76 wickets in his first 12 Tests and took ten against England at Lord’s, but couldn’t complete 100 in the next three matches. Shah said he wished he could play against Ashwin.
“Every Pakistani and Indian player has this wish to play against each other,” said Shah. “I have not played a Test against India, so it’s my wish.”
Political tensions have not allowed Pakistan and India to play a Test series against each other since 2007 – India stalled all bilateral series with Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Ashwin had made his Test debut in 2011 while Shah started playing Tests just two years ago. However, both crossed paths in the 2015 World Cup match in Adelaide, when Ashwin got one wicket and Shah went wicketless.
With India at the top of the Test rankings, closely followed by Pakistan in second, there was a suggestion of having a one-off Test to determine a world Test champion. But renewed tension between the two arch-rivals has left no chance of cricket between the rivals.
Shah also added that he had faced no problems in his comeback from a failed dope test of last year. “I was lucky that I was suspended for three months only,” he said, having escaped a lengthy ban after admitting to taking hypertension tablets. “I did not lose any Test series and since my comeback, I have found no problems.”