COLOMBO - Before the Test series started, Zulfiqar Babar confidently predicted that Yasir Shah would take more wickets than him, and Yasir’s bowling numbers so far have emphatically proved him right. In just eight months, Yasir has made his journey from oblivion to become the fastest Pakistan bowler to take 50 Test wickets, surpassing Pakistan’s coach Waqar Younis.

Yasir said he was happy to achieve the record which would further strengthen his confidence. “I still remember when Shane Warne tweeted me, that gave me ample confidence,” Yasir said after the second day in Colombo. “With his words I was under pressure, thinking how I will live up to his appreciation but with every match I played since then I have started to thrive. I never thought that far [on being the fastest Pakistan bowler to 50 wickets] when I made my debut against Australia. The only aim was to just concentrate on doing good for the country. I knew in Test cricket I needed to be patient and I did exactly what needed to be done. Misbah bhai has supported me all the way. For a legspinner, the field placement is very important and I am glad that the captain is giving me enough freedom to set the field.”

After making his first-class debut in 2002, Yasir got his chance in Test chance last year, and has since left an indelible mark in the format. He took nine wickets in Galle, which included figures of 7 for 76 in the second innings - the best by an overseas bowler in Tests in Sri Lanka. After more than a decade on the domestic circuit, Yasir is not only acknowledged but also respected. On day two in the press box, Pakistan’s consistency in developing world-class bowlers was repeatedly commended.

Yasir’s 13-year first-class career includes 336 wickets at an average of 25.05. He is one of many bowling prospects who had been pushed back with the burgeoning success of Saeed Ajmal in the last five years. He took his second five-for in the space of five days in the second Test in Colombo, after bowling 40 overs - the most by any bowler from both sides so far, primarily because Pakistan have lost Wahab Riaz for the rest of the series due to injury.

After the first Test, Sri Lanka targetted Yasir as a tactic to neutralise him but it was to no effect as Yasir troubled the batsmen with his impressive variations and kept a check on the run rate, going at an economy rate of 2.37 in his 40 overs. Sri Lanka managed to hit him for 10 fours but kept on losing wickets at regular intervals.

“The pitch is still playing well but expect more spin on the fourth and fifth day, it has definitely something to offer. Today the idea was to avoid bowling short and wait for the wickets to come and it worked. Unfortunately, Wahab Riaz got injured and we were forced to play with one bowler short. But the rest have given their 100%, though I had to bowl bit longer. But the plan remained the same to contain as much as we can.”