Pakistan right-arm pacer Hasan Ali, who was the highest wicket-taker in 2017 in ODIs, believes the wicket of South African left-handed batsman Wayne Parnell that he took during their second Champions League match was his best of the year.
Pakistan entered the match against South Africa after receiving a thrashing at the hands of India in their campaign opener.
In the do-or-die match against the Proteas, Hasan proved to be the difference maker as he bowled South African captain Faf du Plessis. The 23-year-old then sent JP Duminy back to the pavilion on the second last ball of the 29th over; caught by Babar Azam at first slip.
In came Parnell to face Hasan. The pacer ran from around the wicket, pitched it on a good length and the ball straightened just enough to beat Parnell’s bat and crash into off-stump.
“I think the delivery I bowled to Wayne Parnell in the Champions Trophy is certainly up there,” Hasan said when asked to nominate the best spell or delivery of 2017, while talking to ESPNcricinfo. “I see all my spells equally since they all helped Pakistan. I think the Champions Trophy matches against South Africa, England and the final against India, I would rate them highly.”
‘Dismissing Dhoni was great’
In the final against India, the only team to beat Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, the onus was on Hasan, who had by then established himself as the best middle-overs bowler Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed had at his disposal.
And when he was called upon, he dismissed veteran batsman MS Dhoni to land the killing blow to India’s hopes of chasing the 339-run target.
“Everyone knows what a great player Dhoni is. So it is natural to feel great when you can dismiss someone who is well known for finishing games,” said Hasan who dismissed the Indian legend with a short ball. “His wicket in the final gave me a lot of joy.”
On bowling with Amir
Before Hasan dismissed Dhoni, left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir had shown just why he is considered one of the finest talents around; dismissing India’s much-vaunted top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and star turn Virat Kohli.
When asked how it feels to bowl with such a great partner, Hasan said: “Recently, someone as big as Kohli said that he finds it hard to face him [Amir]. It is nothing short of a dream to bowl with Amir. He is a star bowler. He is back after a gap of five years, so I feel happy bowling with him.”
On work load management
Hasan has been a regular part of the Pakistan ODI and T20I sides after his exceptional returns in the Champions Trophy. He participated in the Caribbean Premier League and is now playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), showing flashes of brilliance befitting the world’s best ODI bowler.
The work load has taken a toll though and it caused back problems when the World XI visited Pakistan, but Hasan believes a long break from cricket can cause his performances to wane.
“I am a rhythm bowler, so it is best if I continue playing,” he said. “I came to the BPL because there was a gap in the calendar. I can’t rest for more than five or 10 days. I came to the BPL after speaking to the head coach.”
He continued: “You have to look after yourself as a professional cricketer who wants to compete at the highest level. Maybe you can become the number one bowler in the world, but to stay on top is the real test. You have to take care of your training, diet and sleeping patterns.”