“I am very excited to be making my Test comeback in the country where I was injured,” Afridi was quoted on the PCB website. “Injuries are part of an athlete’s life, but it is good to be back. I enjoy red-ball cricket a lot, and I am one wicket away from a century of Test wickets, which would be a big achievement for me.
“It seems like yesterday when I was injured. I will be making my Test return at the same ground where I was injured. I was talking to our physiotherapist about it. It is a matter of pride to represent Pakistan in any format, and I enjoy playing for Pakistan. I hope we will have a good beginning to this cycle of the World Test Championship (WTC), and we will qualify for the final, something we have missed in the last two iterations.”
His return to international cricket hasn’t been easy. Despite being injured and being advised rest for six weeks, Afridi ended up on tour with the rest of the Pakistan team to the Netherlands and later Dubai for the Asia Cup. The rehab didn’t work. His injury got worse and only then did the PCB decide he needed specialist care and flew him to London.
Since returning to white-ball cricket in October last year, he has featured in only 16 international matches so far – less than a third of Pakistan’s total matches since July last year.
“It takes time to get used to red-ball cricket after playing with white ball,” Afridi said. “But the Karachi camp proved beneficial for me. Test cricket demands patience, and you have to work in partnerships with fellow bowlers. Over the last year, I have played more white-ball matches, but when I was playing in the United Kingdom, I bowled extra overs after matches – even with the red ball – to meet the desired workload.
Afridi couldn’t help but look back over how long he has been waiting for his 100th Test wicket. “I was only one wicket away, and the new ball was about to be available [in the Test against Sri Lanka last year]. I was planning to utilise the new ball to reach that milestone, but I got injured before we got the new ball. So, I have had to wait a lot. It is very tough to be away from cricket, but time has helped me learn a lot, which will help me perform well for Pakistan across formats.”