Does our team even have a player who could help bring the World Cup home? Today we look at Asif Ali who was not included in that disappointing initial match.
Asif Ali was born in Faisalabad on October 1, 1991, and was a blacksmith before he found his true calling. The player claims that Cricket wasn’t really something that came naturally to him but was instead something to do in his free time after work. So how did this young man go from a blacksmith with little interest in the game to one of our national players?
Ali first started playing professionally for the Railway Cricket Club and it was this stint that got him noticed, eventually getting drafted into the Faisalabad Team.
From there on it was only a matter of time before he gained praise for being an aggressive and brilliant batsman, largely due to his century in the opening game for the Super Eight T20s in 2011. The 59 balls innings had Ali striking 7 sixes and 9 fours which made the crowd go wild. This was his first major event but after this initial success, Ali disappeared for a bit only to gain national fame for his performance in the PSL for Islamabad United.
It was largely due to his brilliant performance that Islamabad managed to win against the Peshawar Zalmi, a heart-racing inning of 25 runs saw Ali hitting 3 consecutive sixes that would eventually make him a fan favorite and catalyze his selection into the national team.
A match against Zimbabwe last year saw Asif Ali making his One Day International Cricket debut. A surface analysis of Ali’s international career so far might not seem as impressive considering he has played 13 ODIs and 20 T20Is and scored 251 and 280 runs respectively. However, it would be amiss to judge him based solely on this as these scores were achieved at a strike rate of 132.80 and 137.25 respectively and Ali is known for being an aggressive hitter who always manages to get those sixes in.
Keeping this performance in mind it was a surprise when he was initially excluded from the 15-man squad for the ICC World Cup 2019 after all is the Pakistani team not seriously lacking when it comes to their middle order? Wasim Akram was quoted to have said:
“Asif is a pure hitter and Pakistan team needs a hitter in the line-up”
This decision was quickly overturned due to how Ali performed in a five-match ODI series against England. Although the series was a massive defeat with Pakistan losing all five of the matches Asif Ali was among the few highlights with his impressive batting, this earned him widespread praise and a call for his inclusion in the world cup squad.
The middle-order batsman is not only an outstanding player but also an example of strength in the face of harsh circumstances as proven by his ability to play well despite his daughter’s battle with cancer and the subsequent loss of her life. Asif Ali was quoted to have said that:
“She was my strength and inspiration. The fragrance of her memories is going to stay with me forever.”
Despite the pain of having a child in suffering Asif Ali has constantly given his best to the team with commendable performances. This is a testimony to how he is not the type of player who cracks under difficult situations. The fact that he has arrived in England to play for our team while still in grief after his daughter’s funeral proves that he is a man who is adamant on performing even in the face of highly adverse conditions. Maybe that is exactly what Pakistan needs in a team which is known to crumble under pressure.
In Asif Ali, the Pakistan Cricket team has found an aggressive middle-order batsman who is known to perform well under hard conditions. As such Ali brings aspects that our team is seriously lacking which is why we think he could be paramount in achieving success this ICC World Cup.