How Hasan Ali replaced 150kph star Naseem Shah in Pakistan's World Cup squad despite not playing a single ODI since 2022

Sep 22, 2023 10:37 PM IST

Hasan Ali was a surprise inclusion in Pakistan's World Cup squad, replacing the injured Naseem Shah.

Pakistan's young fast bowler, Naseem Shah, will not be part of the ODI World Cup due to a shoulder injury, as Pakistan announced their definitive 15-member squad for the upcoming tournament set to begin next month. Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq revealed that the experienced medium pacer Hasan Ali has been brought back into the squad due to Naseem's injury. The 20-year-old Naseem sustained a shoulder injury during a match against India in the Asia Cup and has been recommended to undergo surgery, with an anticipated recovery period of three to four months.

Pakistan's Hasan Ali in action for the side during T20Is against England in 2022(AFP)
Pakistan's Hasan Ali in action for the side during T20Is against England in 2022(AFP)

Hasan Ali had last played an ODI for Pakistan in June 2022 during the series against West Indies. With the emergence of Naseem, and Haris Rauf and Shaheen Afridi already a part of the side, Hasan Ali was slowly phased out of the side. In fact, Hasan hasn't made a single white-ball appearance for Pakistan this entire year, as the right-arm pacer had also lost his place in the T20I side in September 2022; justifiably, he wasn't part of the T20 World Cup squad that reached the final later that year.

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Inzamam naturally defended Hasan's selection, insisting that the priority was experience. Although Hasan hasn't been a constant presence in the team in recent months, he has retained his role as a senior figure in the Pakistan dressing room. With an impressive track record of 60 ODIs, 50 T20Is, and 22 Tests, Hasan has been one of the more experienced players in the squad. Additionally, he has been staying match-fit, as evidenced by his recent participation in the Lanka Premier League just last month.

“Naseem was injured, he was our main bowler and it was unfortunate. (Muhammad) Hasnain has an ankle injury and is out injured and so is Ihsanullah. If you say Hasan Ali performing in the LPL, or other performances, he has performed better than most," Inzamam stated.

“He is an experienced bowler who has played big mega events for Pakistan and performed well in them. And when Naseem was ruled out, we needed someone who could bowl with the new ball. He bowls well with both old and new ball, and is a team man. His presence lends energy to the team.”

What worked for Hasan?

Since losing his spot in the ODI squad, Hasan has predominantly focused on the shortest format of the game. Besides his stint with Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, Hasan also joined the Birmingham Bears for the Vitality Blast, where he managed to claim nine wickets in five matches, averaging 14.33 with an economy rate of 6.78. Additionally, he represented Dambulla Aura in the LPL 2023, securing eight wickets in five matches with an average of 16.12 and an economy rate of 6.78.

What appeared to work in Hasan's favor for his ODI selection the most, however, was his involvement in First-class cricket. In contrast to Mohammad Amir, who was considered by many as a potential last-minute addition to the Pakistan squad, Hasan actively participated in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy last year while representing Southern Punjab. He featured in six first-class matches during the 2022/23 season and was also included in the Test series against New Zealand in January earlier this year.

In fact, Inzamam clarified that Amir needs to return to First-class cricket in order to be reconsidered for selection. “Amir has been a great cricketer. He has taken retirement. If he wants to play for Pakistan, he will have to play first-class cricket and perform there. If he performs then he will definitely be considered. Selection door is not closed for any player,” Inzamam said.

How has Hasan faired against India?

Hasan has played in five ODIs against India between 2017 and 2019, and was part of the XI that defeated the side in the Champions Trophy final in 2017 as well. In five matches against India, he has taken as many wickets with best bowling figures of 3/19. However, as with all the other members of the Pakistan squad for the 2023 World Cup, Hasan hasn't made a single appearance on Indian soil.

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