PAKISTAN V AUSTRALIA 2019
In his debut ODI, Hasnain failed to pick up a wicket but impressed the think-tank with his raw pace. © PCB
Shane Watson had warned his compatriots ahead of the series. But countering that pace was always going to be a difficult proposition.
The atmosphere was dull and the match was turning out to be a largely one-sided affair before an 18-year-old debutant breathed life into it. The second Pakistan-Australia ODI in Sharjah had the same pattern to it as the series opener. The lacklustre show with the bat followed by a clueless bowling display from Pakistan as the Australian openers, who this time knitted a 209-run partnership, pushed the hosts out of the match.
But, then came the 11th over and with it the introduction of Mohammad Hasnain into the attack. On his very first delivery, the right-arm quick hurled a pacy bouncer at Usman Khawaja making him duck. The next over, a 147kph delivery thudded onto Aaron Finch’s helmet as the batsman turned out to be late on the hook. A brief break followed as a member of Australian medical staff rushed in the middle to ensure the batsman’s safety while Finch tried to fix his helmet.
“I have never seen an 18-year old bowl at such pace,” the veteran Australian all-rounder who shared the dressing-room with Hasnain during this PSL had said. “I think even on the UAE pitches he will be a difficult proposition for the Australian team.”
Throughout the course of the match, Hasnain peppered Finch and Khawaja, who were hardly challenged by other bowlers, with menacing bouncers and pushed them back in the crease by consistently hitting the hard length on a slow-paced wicket. The scenes made Waqar Younis so excited, he was quick to suggest on air that Shoaib Malik should’ve given the youngster the new ball.
Ahead of this year’s PSL, Mickey Arthur had suggested that the individual performances during the league will play a role in determining the squad for the all-important World Cup. He also seemed open to the idea of having a close look at any impressive emerging talent.
So there was Hasnain, bowling thunderbolts in Pakistan colours, on Sunday, mere six days after helping Quetta Gladiators to their maiden PSL title with a 3 for 30 which got him player of the match award.
Before his Pakistan debut, the right-arm quick had told pcb.com.pk: “I can’t describe the feeling, it’s a dream come true.” After all, what words can encapsulate the feeling of one’s first List ‘A’ match being the ODI debut for his country?
That such a remarkable debut came just two months ahead of the World Cup underscored the impression Hasnain had left on those who matter. He gained attention right from the second ball of his PSL debut – which was also his first competitive T20 game – against Lahore Qalandars in Dubai by picking up the wicket of Fakhar Zaman.
Over the course of his next six matches in the tournament, Hasnain’s red-hot pace, which saw him touch 150kph regularly, coupled with the ability to extract bounce from slow surfaces and bowl scorching yorkers made him stand apart from the rest of the emerging pacers. His 12 wickets at 17.58 runs apiece in the season included the scalps of Babar Azam, Kieron Pollard, Misbah ul Haq, Colin Ingram, and Kamran Akmal.
What makes his PSL extraordinary is that Hasnain hardly had any competitive cricket under his belt. He had turned out twice for Pakistan Television in his debut season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy last year. But, he was deemed to be this good, after the praises that he was gathering from an early age.
Some four years ago, Steve Waugh, the former Australian captain, after watching him and Shaheen Afridi bowl during an Under-16 game against Australia said that the pair will make it big in international cricket. “We did well on the tour and during one of the matches at the Bradman Ground near Sydney, Steve Waugh came to watch his son Austin,” recalled Mohammad Masroor the then Pakistan Under-16 coach. “When he saw Shaheen and Hasnain in action, he predicted the two boys will make an impact at international level.”
The only pacer from Hyderabad to have made it this far, Hasnain, on Sunday, couldn’t add to his wickets column, returning 0 for 54 in nine in a match that saw Australia comfortably level the record for the highest chase at Sharjah. But, his impeccable length bowling, inducing numerous oohs and aahs, promises a bright future for him.