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Pace like fire

Pakistan cricket is lucky to have produced quality fast bowlers on a regular basis. From ...

Pace like fire

Pakistan cricket is lucky to have produced quality fast bowlers on a regular basis. From Fazal Mehmood to Usman Khan Shinwari, there is a long list of renowned pacers who played a vital role in Pakistan’s victories.

In early 2000s, Pakistan had one of the most lethal fast bowling attacks consisting of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.

It’s only a God-gifted talent. There is no strong domestic infrastructure and there has been no international cricket in Pakistan since 2009, but fast bowlers are coming up.

Currently, Pakistan cricket team has some very talented fast bowlers in the shape of Muhammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, Ruman Raees and the new sensation Shinwari.

Among the current pacers, Hasan is the finding of the year. In just 14 months from his ODI debut against Ireland in August 2016, Hasan has become number one bowler in the ICC rankings.

Hasan has moved up six places (from 7th to 1st) to become the fifth bowler at the top of the ODI rankings this year after Trent Boult, Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada and Josh Hazlewood. He has 743 points. South African spinner Imran is second with 726 points.

Hasan is the fastest to claim the top position in the ICC ranking as he reached the milestone in just over a year from his ODI debut.

“It’s a dream come true. I set many goals in my childhood and to be the world number one bowler was at the top,” Hasan said in an interview.

In 2017, he has taken 45 wickets in 18 ODIs so far at an average of just 17.06. Overall in his short ODI career, he has taken 56 wickets in 26 matches, averaging 19.82 with five-wicket hauls on three occasions. He is the first Pakistani fast bowler to take 5-fors thrice in a calendar year in six years. The last one was former all-rounder Shahid Afridi who achieved this feat in 2011. The last Pakistani fast bowler to take three 5-fors in a calendar year was Azhar Mahmood who did so in 1999.

Hasan helped Pakistan to a 5-0 whitewash in the recently-concluded ODI series against Sri Lanka in the UAE with 14 wickets at an average of just 11.28.

The 23-year-old Hasan also became the fastest Pakistani bowler to take 50 wickets in One-day Internationals, achieving the feat in only 24 matches, breaking the record of former Pakistan captain and coach Waqar Younis who had taken 27 ODIs to achieve the landmark.

After the ban on Asif and Amir in 2010, a vacuum was created in Pakistani fast bowling and spinners Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, and Yasir Shah led Pakistani bowling.

But during the Champions Trophy, Pakistan cricket found another winning combination of fast bowlers comprising Amir, Junaid and young Hasan.

After losing the first match against India, Pakistan won all the matches, including the final. The main contribution came from the fast bowlers. They restricted the strong batting lineups of South Africa, England and the mighty Indians.

Hasan was the find of the Champions Trophy. Before the ICC trophy, he had played one Test, 16 ODIs and seven T20 Internationals but he got worldwide fame with the performance in the Champions Trophy.

He looked ordinary in the first match against India in which he conceded 70 runs in 10 overs, but made a comeback with confidence and took three wickets each in the rest of the matches: 3-24 against South Africa, 3-43 against Sri Lanka, 3-35 against England in the semi-final and 3-19 in the final against India.

He finished the Champions Trophy as the highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets, averaging just 14.69. His economy rate was just 4.29.

For his outstanding performance, he was named Player of the Champions Trophy. He also won the Golden Ball Trophy.

Hasan is inspired by former Pakistan captain Waqar Younis for his aggression. He wants to bowl and earn fame like Waqar in international circuit.

His journey began at the under-16 trials in Gujranwala in 2009. After playing for Gujranwala in junior cricket, he attended trials for Sialkot region. He made first-class debut for Sialkot in 2013 at the age of 19 against Lahore Ravi and took four wickets in the first innings.

His 17 wickets in the National One-day Cup for Sialkot last year attracted the attention of the selectors of the national squad.

Pakistan Super League (PSL) has played an important role in discovering new talent. Hasan represents Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL. Critics said that he was not capable of performing on international level, but in just one year he has proved them wrong.

Hasan played a decisive role in Peshawar Zalmi’s success in PSL. Only two players took more wickets than him in the second edition this year.

Hasan also took 18 wickets in 12 Twenty20 Internationals he played, averaging 20.11, and his economy rate was 8.13. In only 30 first-class matches, he has taken 131 wickets at an average of 24.88.

 

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Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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