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Pakistan speedster Hasan Ali is determined to continue his dream run at the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and make the Golden Ball his own as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker. With ten wickets so far in the tournament – four more than his nearest competitor in India’s Bhuvaneshwar Kumar – the award is almost secure in his kitty but the 23-year-old wants to make sure that he picks up a few wickets in the final against India on Sunday to make it an experience to cherish.
"It's like a dream," Hasan told AFP on Friday. "I set a goal for myself during the West Indies series (in Guyana in April) and it was to become the best bowler in the Champions Trophy. I want to achieve that goal."
Ali credited Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood for helping him improve his bowling in English conditions.
"I will give the credit for my improvement to Azhar Mahmood, who has been working very hard with us bowlers," said Hasan. "I have the much-needed rhythm, so I will do my best to continue that."
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With 39 wickets from 20 ODIs so far, Hasan Ali is touted for a bright future with Pakistan and his exploits in the 2017 Champions Trophy has helped the world take notice of his potential.
He was instrumental in Pakistan’s comprehensive win over hosts and red-hot favourites England in the semi-final, picking up three top-order wickets, including the prized scalp of Ben Stokes.
His ten wickets have come at an average of just 17.20 and he has set his sights on picking up a few more in the final as well.
Ali is keen to rectify the mistakes he and Pakistan made in the series opener against India when they succumbed to a humiliating 124-run loss and will take confidence from the fact that they have been outstanding since that match with victories over South Africa, Sri Lanka, and England.
Azhar Mahmood, with his immense County cricket experience, has been a key factor in the team’s fortunes and has been a huge influence on Hasan personally. He credited the former Pakistan all-rounder for inculcating a sense of rhythm in his bowling that has helped him improve a lot.
Apart from his wicket-taking exploits, the right-arm pacer has also stood out with his exuberant celebration – a high leap into the air with arms and legs then going at different angles – and it is something he is hopeful that the Pakistan cricket fans get to see a few times in the final.
Like former cricketers like Imran Khan and Zaheer Abbas, Hasan Ali is hopeful that Pakistan can restore their pride by avenging the loss to India in the group stages and is hopeful that things work out as they have planned.
They will no doubt be boosted by the fact that Mohammad Amir has recovered in time for the final having missed the semi-final clash against India with a back spasm.
India, on the other hand, are sweating on the fitness of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who is struggling with a knee injury.
After being ripped apart in the opener against India, Hasan Ali has made quite a comeback in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and it will be a big surprise if he doesn’t end up as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker.
He will have a key role to play for Pakistan alongside Mohammad Amir, if they are to have any chances against an Indian side whose top order has been simply unstoppable.Published 18 Jun 2017, 11:50 IST