Thursday, June 15, 2017

Hasan Ali & Fakhar Zaman at the Forefront of Pakistan's Resurgence

Two years ago, Pakistan had to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in order to qualify for the Champions Trophy 2017; and now they find themselves in the final of the Champions Trophy for the first time ever.

It is their 5th ICC Final overall and their 1st in an ICC ODI tournament in 18 years.

It has been quite a turnaround for Pakistan after being decimated by India in the opening match of the Champions Trophy. Especially considering that they first overcame the world's number 1 ODI team in the group stages and then thrashed the world's strongest ODI side, tournament favorites, and hosts in the semifinal.

Maybe the rain saved them against South Africa; maybe it was an ugly victory over Sri Lanka; but it was an emphatic and dominant win over England. Something that other teams have not been able to manage over the past two years.

Pakistan did not improve their batting. They didn't all of a sudden start hitting 300+ scores. What Pakistan did is adopt a strategy to choke the opposition, bundle them out for 200 odd scores, and chase.

South Africa were restricted to 219. Sri Lanka to 236. England to 211.

In a tournament and in a day and age where 300 is considered par, this is a phenomenal performance.

No other team has been able to restrict oppositions in this manner. Not England, not Australia, not India, not South Africa, not anyone.


At the top of this resurgence has been Hasan Ali, Pakistan's newest pace sensation from Mandi Bahauddin. He is the leading wicket taker in this Champions Trophy with 10 scalps and he has very rapidly become Pakistan's main strike weapon.

The best part about Hasan Ali's wickets is that he has picked up the big ones, the key wickets that every captain wants his bowler to get. Take a look at the names who have fallen to Hasan:

Yuvraj Singh
Faf Du Plessis
JP Duminy
Kusal Mendis
Asela Gunaratne
Johnny Bairstow
Eoin Morgan
Ben Stokes

Hasan Ali now has 39 wickets in 20 ODIs, which is the most by any Pakistani bowler in his first 20 ODIs.

Junaid Khan has also been superb for Pakistan. With every game he has shown how the selectors and management were wrong to ignore him for so long. He should have played against India!

Pakistan is the only team in this Champions Trophy whose entire bowling line up has an economy rate of below 5. No surprise that all 6 of their bowlers are among the top 15 in terms of economy rate among all bowlers who have bowled a minimum of 20 overs.


Pakistan's batting still has to improve significantly. The batsmen still do not play at a high strike rate, nor do they rotate strike as effectively as batsmen from other teams.

Despite majority of their batting being old fashioned, Pakistan has unearthed a gem in Fakhar Zaman. He has led the way in scoring rapidly at the top of the order and shown the world that Pakistan too has some aggressive batsmen who can play modern day ODI cricket.

Not only does he find boundaries often, Fakhar also rotates strike very effectively. He needs to hold lessons for the likes of Azhar Ali and Mohammad Hafeez,

Fakhar has been so good that he has the highest strike rate in the Champions Trophy (for all batsmen with over 100 runs) and that too by some margin. He is one of the two batsmen with a strike rate of over 100 and the only opener with a strike rate of over 100.

And this is his debut ODI series!

Fakhar has brought in some much needed liveliness to Pakistan's batting, which is hampered by a few batsmen who can't manage a strike rate above 70.

This has been one impressive campaign for Pakistan who have gone from strength to strength with every game.

They have set up a likely first ever final with India in an ICC ODI tournament. Sunday in London will be an epic and historic day.

With the momentum that Pakistan has gained over the past week, it is going to be hard to stop them. If they can manage the unthinkable and topple India, Pakistan's campaign would have come full circle in an absolutely dramatic manner.

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