DUBAI: Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah does not know much about Clarrie Grimmett but is aware that he has a strong chance of shattering a record set by the Australian 82 years ago.
Yasir tormented New Zealand on his way to a match haul of 14-184 to help Pakistan achieve a series-leveling win by an innings and 16 runs in the second Test in Dubai on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old now has 195 wickets in 32 Tests and needs just five more in the third and final Test starting in Abu Dhabi from Monday to become the quickest bowler to reach 200 Test wickets.
In fact, he will take the record if he can pick up those wickets any time in his next three Tests as Grimmett — also a leg-spinner — took his 200th wicket in his 36th Test against South Africa in 1936.
Yasir admits the record is in his mind but knows little about the holder of it.
“Grimmett? I don’t know much about him,” said Yasir. “He played so many years ago, but I know about the record because his name comes first whenever I see the list.
“I want to beat that record.”
Since taking seven wickets on debut against Australia in 2014, Yasir has been a key figure in Pakistan’s Test team.
He took 12 wickets in that 2-0 series win over Australia in United Arab Emirates in 2014 and followed that with 15 against New Zealand in a 1-1 draw the same year.
That was followed by 24 wickets against Sri Lanka in 2015 and ten wickets in a match to beat England at Lord’s a year later. He took 21 and 25 wickets respectively in series wins over the West Indies.
Yasir reached 100 wickets in 17 Tests, second only to Englishman George Lohmann who reached the target in 16 matches during a Test in Johannesburg in 1896.
“I am very happy to have contributed to the team’s wins,” said Yasir. “That is my job and I realise that responsibility to take wickets and get my team more and more wins.”
Yasir’s figures in Dubai are the second best match return ever for Pakistan in Test cricket, bettered only by former captain and current prime minister Imran Khan who took 14-116 against Sri Lanka in Lahore in 1982.
“I have equalled Imran Khan and that’s a big honour for me,” said Yasir. “My name will come with his and that’s great and I await his message.”
Yasir admitted the loss of his mother just days before the New Zealand series had made him anxious.
“It was tough coming here,” said Yasir. “I was very tense. You are nothing without your mother. When I used to go out for the match I would call her to pray for me to get five wickets and she would reply that ‘why not 10 or 15, why just five?
“I would like to dedicate this feat to my mother.”