Cricket’s new sensation and Pakistan’s most precious gem in the squad at present, Hasan Ali, belongs to Gujranwala, an industrial city in the province of Punjab. He comes from a place where sports like wrestling and Kabaddi are more in demand when compared to cricket. But, Hasan chose cricket, and only in 14 months of international cricket, he has made his own small territory on the higher level of the sport amongst the big names already ruling the place. Apart from his wicket-taking abilities and the pace of his that has been amazing the cricketing world, he has a unique kind of celebration, with pumping energy that indirectly teases Kabbadi and wrestling that their loss turned out to be cricket’s gain.
Hasan is just 23 and being a youngster he realises that he can build the required energy in the team and he has been working towards it ever since he made his international debut for Pakistan in 2016 during an ODI against Ireland. In his first match, he bowled five overs and went wicket-less. In the next three ODIs, he bagged a total of four wickets. Then came the match when the world witnessed glimpses of what Hasan could do, provided he is groomed well and continued to stick to his necessary hard work on daily basis.
When there is a good beginning, there has to be an obstacle that interrupts to pull a player down. During the 2016-17 edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), a senior Pakistan journalist objected Hasan from attending a press conference stating that the fast bowler cannot speak properly. One must not forget that a cricketer needs to know the game properly and should be judged by how he fared in that. Knowing any particular language is not in the criteria that decides the future of a player. Hasan decided to give a solid response to the journalist and others who abided him but in his own style. He waited for a few months, got selected for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 squad and unleashed himself in England, thereby rubbishing any doubt if anyone had on his capability.
Although Hasan began the CT campaign in not so memorable way with a chaotic one-wicket spell and two dropped catches in Pakistan’s opening match which was against arch-rivals India and the later ended in the losing side. However, Hasan went back to being himself and making the best use of the fast and bouncy tracks with his pace, off-cutters and in-swingers. He claimed three wickets in each of the last four games, including the final, which was again against the Indians. With 13 wickets and a huge impact, Hasan was declared Man of the Tournament.
Following the Champions Trophy, the tour of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to play Sri Lanka was Pakistan’s next assignment. After performing on the England tricky tracks, Hasan had a test on the flat Asian conditions. A bowler is judged one of the best if he goes on to do well across the continents and with nine wickets in three ODIs and two matches to go, Hasan has shown that he has what takes to become a stand-out bowler in international cricket. In the first ODI, he did make his presence felt with three wickets before he went quiet as he picked only a wicket having bowled 10 overs in the second ODI.
The third match was scheduled to be played again in Abu Dhabi under difficult heated conditions. While Sri Lanka were playing to keep themselves alive in the series, Pakistan were looking to seal the five-match series with a win in the third match on Wednesday. The visitors started off well as they put up their first fifty-run stand in the top-order in seven matches. Hasan then broke in with a wicket of their most-dependable batsman at the top – Niroshan Dickwella – in the 11th over and from there on he looked nearly unplayable. The wicketkeeper-batsman, however, was unlucky as he judged a not so great ball from Hasan wrong and got his stumps rattled.
Hasan had the senior man, Junaid Khan’s support from the other end. After the rest of the top-order was derailed by Shadab Khan, next victim in-line were the middle-order men, who altogether lasted only for 12 balls. Chamara Kapugedera, Milinda Siriwardana and Jeffrey Vandersay became Junaid and Hasan’s victims and suddenly Sri Lanka were 141 for 6 in 36 overs and even a total of 200 looked almost impossible. Then, Lahiru Thiramanne, dragged the Sri Lankan innings for a while, before he fell for a fighting 45-ball 28.
In the next over, Hasan removed Lankan spinner Dananjaya before wrapping up a third five-wicket haul of the year when he dismissed his counterpart Dushmanta Chameera.
With 40 wickets to his name in 16 matches in this calendar year, he is the highest wicket-taker in 2017 so far. While the likes of Hardik Pandya, Kagiso Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah among many others have been in the limelight in 2017 for their bowling performances, Hasan steadily and quietly has reached on the top with sheer hard work and consistency. He also has a significant national record to his name, considering Pakistan have produced high-class fast bowlers. Hasan has raced to 50 wickets in just 24 ODIs to become the quickest Pakistani to get there. He went past the previous record held by Waqar Younis (27 matches). With two more matches to go in the Sri Lanka series, the visitors will crop out a special plan to deal with his young machine.