The Hasan Ali Conundrum

Hasan Ali gets the wicket of Kieran Powell. Picture Credits- ICC

From the highs of Champions trophy to the lows of World Cup, Hasan Ali has seen a dramatic dip in his form. The drubbing against India proved to be the final nail in the coffin as Hasan Ali was dropped for the subsequent games and hasn’t featured since.

Hasan finished the game with sobering figures of 1-84. Once again he was inconsistent with his lengths which has been the pattern for him throughout the World Cup. He was either too short or too wide and helped Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul get away with easy runs and lay a strong foundation. With his opening partner, Mohammad Amir, only giving away 6 off his 3 overs while Hasan conceded 26. By the time he ended his fifth over he had already gone for 45 and his last four overs cost Pakistan 39 runs. The difference between his Champions Trophy and World Cup numbers so far is staggering.

Matches Overs Maidens Runs Wickets Eco
Champions Trophy 2017 5 44.3 2 191 13 4.30
World Cup 2019 (so far) 5 33 0 256 2 7.75

 

Hasan Ali made his first-class debut against Lahore Ravi and immediately made his mark with 5-wickets in the match with four of them coming in the first innings. His coruscating performances in the domestic tournaments were rewarded by being selected to play for Peshawar Zalmi for the inaugural PSL edition where he was a breakthrough star. Preceding the PSL season, he picked up eight wickets in four games in National T20 cup, followed by 17 wickets in National-One Day cup in January 2016.

After making his debut for Pakistan in August 2016, Hasan Ali became a regular in the white ball format. He had a stellar first year and was instrumental in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph two years back. His economical spells along with wickets in the middle overs were crucial in Pakistan’s surge to the title. By the time Pakistan won the title, Hasan Ali had already taken three or more wickets nine times (two five-for against Australia and West Indies) in 21 ODI’s.

Consistent performances thereafter saw him become the number-one ranked bowler in ODIs in October 2017. On his way he also became the quickest Pakistani to reach 50 ODI wickets eclipsing the great Waqar Younis and fifth overall. He achieved this feat in only his 24th game. Waqar had nothing but praises for him: “I love this kid Hasan Ali. He reminds me of my younger days and he’s got what it takes to become the great of the game.”

Hasan Ali, unarguably had all the attributes to carry the legacy of his predecessors. His flamboyance and swagger on the field was reminiscent of the great Pakistani bowlers of past.

Since 2017, the wheels have come off. His bowling has lost much of its potency. The wickets have dried up. His ability to mix up accuracy through cross-seam deliveries which duped batsmen are nowhere to be seen. Skiddy bouncers and devastating yorkers in the death are missing from his arsenal. The last time he picked up two wickets in an ODI was in November 2018.

Hasan Ali Over The Years

Year    Overs  Runs    Wickets           Econ    Avg     SR

2016    64.4     343      11                    5.30     31.2     35.3

2017    152.2   772      45                    5.07     17.2     20.3

2018    113.1   646      19                    5.71     34.0     35.7

2019    94.3     625      7                      6.61     89.3     81.0

Total   424.4   2,386   82                    5.62     29.1     31.1

The numbers in 2019 paint a very sorry picture for Hasan. There is a myriad of criticism on his place in the side. Some pundits are questioning his pace while others are lamenting on his lack of intensity and attitude are the reason for this dip.

Pakistan’s general inability to take wickets with the new ball has been inimical in Hasan’s dip in form. In the recent past he has been given the responsibility of leading the pace attack with the likes of inexperienced Shaheen Shah Afridi and Mohammad Hasnain which has also taken its toll. A slight dip in Shadab Khan’s performances in 2018, and his absence in the series preceding to World cup has also contributed to Hasan’s dip.

In addition to that, he hasn’t done well in the new role of opening the bowling which has further dented his confidence. Against India, it was only the tenth time he opened the bowling for Pakistan in 53 matches. May be the team management needs to re-consider his role and get him back to bowl with the old ball or send him back to domestic cricket to find his mojo.

Hasan Ali now finds himself at a crossroad where a failure to improve himself could be disastrous for his career. He has to reflect on his recent performances and think about his lack of success. His ability is being questioned and if that doesn’t galvanize him, probably nothing will.

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