ISLAMABAD - Teenage pace sensation Shaheen Afridi is all set to cap his meteoric rise with a Test debut for Pakistan in the third match against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi starting on Monday.
A shoulder injury to medium pacer Mohammad Abbas in the second Test in Dubai has paved way for Shaheen to make his mark in the last act of a gripping series which stands at 1-1.
"If I get a chance I will do my best," Shaheen told AFP on Saturday. "I always had belief in my ability and in my hard work although I didn´t expect my chance will come in Tests so early."
The 18-year-old left-arm quick made his mark in a domestic match in September last year, claiming eight wickets for just 39 runs in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy game, the best figures by a Pakistan bowler on first-class debut.
The cricket world took notice of the 1.98 metre tall bowler who could hit the 90 miles per hour mark with the ball. Within 15 months he is already being compared to Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc and legendary Pakistan paceman Wasim Akram.
His rise to the Pakistan team began at home in Landi Kotal, a town in the Khyber District, close to the border with Afghanistan, where his elder brother Riaz who played one Test for Pakistan in 200, gave him his first bowling lessons.
"My brother was my role model who taught me how to bowl and how to approach cricket with a positive frame of mind," said Shaheen. "I owe my success to him."
Riaz also taught his brother a few shots to the extent that he is considered a handy hard-hitting all-rounder.
Since his impressive first-class debut, Shaheen has continued to attract attention, finishing with 12 wickets at the ICC Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand this year and then grabbing a five wicket haul in a Pakistan Super League match. - APP / AFP