LAHORE: It was February 2016, and the Pakistan Super League was in its inaugural season. The Peshawar Zalmi had just lost a match, and an unknown cricketer by the name of Hasan Ali was sent to the post match press conference to answer questions. In a way, he was a goat, being sent to be slaughtered by the voracious journalists sitting in the room ready for a hunt. The hunt began almost immediately but one of the journalists took it too far, asking who this bakra was. In an effort to protect the young lad, the Zalmi management quickly took Hasan Ali out of the room.
Most young players, playing in the media spotlight for the first time and in a league full of world’s top players, might have been scarred from such an incident. But Hasan Ali wasn’t.
A few months later, in August 2016, Hasan Ali made his international debut in an ODI against Ireland. After tours to England, Australia and the West Indies, Hasan Ali was the Player of the Tournament in Pakistan’s famous Champions Trophy victory. In the tournament, the fast bowler had picked up 13 wickets, and as a demonstration of his consistency, picked up exactly 3 wickets in each of Pakistan’s 4 wins.
During the recently concluded 5-0 whitewash of Sri Lanka, in which Hasan Ali picked up another 14 wickets, Ali shot to #1 in the ODI Bowling rankings. He became only the fourth Pakistani bowler to ever achieve the #1 ranking. The following table shows a list of the highest ranked Pakistani bowlers in ODI history along with their Highest Rating. The Rating is a measure of form, and takes the opposition strength into account.
As the table shows, aside from Hasan Ali, only Wasim Akram, Saeed Ajmal and Saqlain Mushtaq achieved the number 1 ranking in ODIs for Pakistan.
As the table shows, aside from Hasan Ali, only the left arm fast bowler Wasim Akram, and off-spinners Saeed Ajmal and Saqlain Mushtaq achieved the number 1 ranking in ODIs for Pakistan. But what particularly stands out is the meteoric rise in which Hasan Ali has had since his debut. It has taken him a remarkable 14 months to rise to the top of the table.
When compared to the other #1s, Saeed Ajmal and Saqlain Mushtaq both took around 3 years to get to number 1 spot, while Wasim Akram took almost 5 years. The following graph shows the ranking of Hasan Ali at each stage of his career so far, and the phenomenal rise he has experienced since making his debut.
Mia Hamm, the American soccer player, once said: “It is more difficult to stay on top than to get there.” Looking forward, Hasan Ali would want to emulate the career of two great fast bowlers, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. Both managed to maintain very good rankings throughout their careers, and always remained in the upper echelons of the bowling rankings. Although Waqar never achieved the number 1 ranking due to Curtly Ambrose, his highest career rating of 778 is higher than Hasan Ali’s current rating of 759.
Recently, Captain Sarfraz Ahmed stated that in his opinion, Pakistan had the best bowling attack in the world. It is a fair statement by the skipper, because this year the Pakistani bowling attack has dominated and hunted the opposition with methodology and collaboration. They have crushed the opposition like a pack of wolves on a hunt, and the leader of that pack has been Hasan Ali. In just over a year, he has gone from being hunted in a press conference to being the lead hunter in the best bowling attack in the world.