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June 17, 2019

The curious case of Hasan Ali

Sports

June 17, 2019

MANCHESTER: Two years ago, Hasan Ali was Pakistan cricket’s golden boy. One of the heroes of their stunning title-winning triumph in the ICC Champions Trophy, the 22-year-old pacer was an instant success in international cricket and was crowned the world’s best bowler in ODI cricket soon after cementing his place in the Pakistani squad.

Everything was looking good for Hasan. He had a lively pace. He had movement and could take wickets almost at will.

Pakistan were sure he would go on to play a key role in important international assignments especially World Cup 2019. But unfortunately for them it hasn’t happened. Perhaps an early bloomer, Hasan peaked a bit too early.

Slowly but surely, Hasan’s performance graph has dipped since his heroics in the Champions Trophy back in 2017. He has lost his touch. His failure to attain any movement means that he has lost his ability to strike. Coming into the game against India, Hasan had just taken 7 wickets from his last 11 ODO outings. The last time he took more than one wicket in a match was back in November 2018.

On Sunday in the big match against India, Hasan once again failed to impress. It’s not that he bowled completely badly in a forgettable spell of 1-84 from 9 overs. He did put the batsmen on the back foot if and when he targeted the stumps but more often than not would bowl too short and too wide to ease the pressure. His loose deliveries allowed Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to build up a big opening partnership despite an impressive first spell by Mohammad Amir at the other end.

So what’s wrong with Hasan?

Pakistan’s opponents have worked him out. He was a surprise weapon in the Champions Trophy but that element is long gone. But experts believe it’s more than just that.

“I believe it’s a lot to do with his (Hasan’s) fitness,” says former Pakistan Test pacer Jalaluddin. “When he first shot to fame Hasan was a fit young man but that’s not the case anymore,” Jalal told ‘The News’ at Old Trafford on Sunday as India hammered 336-5 after being put into bat by Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. “His deliveries used to wobble back in his early days. Now there is no movement and that’s all because he is not a fit bowler anymore,” he said.

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