It has been a dream comeback for Hasan Ali to say the least. He finished the Test series against South Africa with 12 wickets and was instrumental in Pakistan’s historic win over South Africa after 17 years. In the second Test, he bagged 10 wickets and became the first fast-bowler for Pakistan in the last 15 years to achieve this feat.
On the final day of the Test where all three results were possible it was Hasan who gave a crucial breakthrough in the morning by dismissing Rassie Van Der Dussen who was looking set with Aiden Markram at that time. Just like in the first innings he deceived him. Then he trapped Faf du Plessis in front of the stumps a few overs later.
After that Aiden Markram and Temba Bavuma stitched a brilliant partnership of 106 and just when things were going away from Pakistan, Hasan produced another magic of brilliance by dismissing Markram and captain Quinton De Kock on successive deliveries to turn the tide in Pakistan’s favor. His wickets induced a collapse which saw the Proteas lose 5 for 33 in 10 overs. His bowling and attitude was a reminicense of his past glory.
After making his debut for Pakistan in August 2016, Hasan became a regular in the white ball format and shortly made his Test debut. He had a stellar first year and was instrumental in Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph in 2017. 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 trophy, Hasan had already taken three or more wickets nine times (two five-for against Australia and West Indies) in 21 ODIs.
Hasan made his first-class debut against Lahore Ravi and immediately made his mark with five wickets in the match with four of them coming in the first innings. His coruscating performances in the domestic were rewarded with him being selected by Peshawar Zalmi for the inaugural PSL edition where he was a breakthrough star. Preceding the 2016 PSL season, he had picked up eight wickets in four games in the National T20 Cup, followed by 17 wickets in National One Day Cup in January 2016.
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 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.”
But after 2017, the wheels started to come off. His bowling lost much of its potency. The wickets dried up. His ability to mix up accuracy through cross-seam deliveries which duped batsmen was nowhere to be seen. Skiddy bouncers and devastating yorkers in the death were suddenly missing from his arsenal.
There was 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.
“It was quite a tough time for me, staying away from cricket for 16-17 months for a player who was a permanent member across formats. I worked very hard to make this comeback. I proved my fitness in the domestic to earn my spot back,” Hasan said.
Hasan had a prolific run in the recently concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy where he finished as top wicket-takers among pace bowlers with 43 wickets. He was instrumental in Central Punjab’s late resurgence to make it to the final of the domestic competition and made a brilliant 61-ball 106 to tie with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Hasan Ali has credited his hard work behind the scenes for these results. All those hours at the gym where he had to work on his fitness and on the field rediscovering his skill and art. He said
“One thing is very clear that I really like Test cricket. I always wanted to be a Test cricketer and now I am one. So I always prefer Test cricket and you have to be ready and motivated accordingly. So put in the hard work keeping in mind that I’ll be making my comeback in longer format and even the team management knew and they brought me back to international cricket gradually. I readied myself accordingly and told them I am now fit and available for whichever format you think is suitable for me.”
He has great things to look forward to. He’s been named in the T20I squad for the three-match series that follows and a possible return to Pakistan’s limited-overs XI will put him one step further away from the dark days of 2020. And for the tough days that await him, he has his own kind of motivation.
Hasan, unarguably, has all the attributes to carry the legacy of his predecessors. His flamboyance and swagger on the field are a reminiscent of the great Pakistani bowlers of past.