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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Aur koi hukam Pakistan?, asks the six-hitting genie Asif Ali

At the post-match press conference Asif spoke about not being a social media nerd. He was trying to hide years of hurt.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: October 30, 2021 10:35:23 am
Asif Ali, T20 World CupPakistan's Asif Ali, left, and Shoaib Malik celebrate scoring runs just before their win during the Cricket Twenty20 World Cup match between New Zealand and Pakistan in Sharjah, UAE, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Asif Ali has a backstory. This World Cup is proving to be his redemption.

After his match-winning seven-ball 25, including four sixes in an over to seal the deal, Asif posted a cryptic message on Twitter. “Aur koi hukam Pakistan? Shukriya @isbunited aur woh sub log jinho ne mere per belief rakha mere mushkil waqt mai. (Any more command Pakistan? Thank you Islamabad United and the people who kept faith in me in tough times)”

A congratulatory message came close on its heels, from England all-rounder Ben Stokes. “Remember the name @AasifAli2018”.

At the post-match press conference Asif spoke about not being a social media nerd. He was trying to hide years of hurt.

Coming into the T20 World Cup, the biggest concern was Pakistan’s brittle middle-order. Asif was called an “enigma” by local press, someone who sizzled in domestic cricket and fizzled at international level. He received flak from mainstream media and got trolled after Pakistan’s loss against Zimbabwe earlier this year. After the series against South Africa, his weakness against the short ball was mercilessly highlighted.

Highlights:

In June this year, after smashing 75 runs off 43 balls for Islamabad United against Lahore Qalandars, Asif spoke about his hurt. “Except for Islamabad United, nobody trusts my batting and backs it. Some people think that I’m only a player who can bat four overs and my message to them is that this is not the case and whenever I get the opportunity, like today, I will perform well,” he had said.

Asif has seven sixes off 19 balls at the ongoing T20 World Cup, playing impact knocks against New Zealand and Afghanistan, helping his side pull off wins in pressure situations. Following his four sixes in an over off Karim Janat on Friday, his PSL franchise tweeted: “Leave a reply below this tweet if you have ever doubted Asif Ali’s abilities! WE WILL WAIT!”

ALSO READ | Asif Ali, the new finisher in town

Asif’s comment at the post-match presser oozed self-confidence, sometimes misconstrued as arrogance in the sub-continent.

“I don’t notice criticism. I don’t follow social media at all. I’m very far away from it,” Asif insisted.

He believed that Pakistan needed him for the showpiece event. “My role was such that I sometimes came into the team and sometimes was dropped. Pakistan needed me and called for me. I have played leagues around the world and was playing domestic cricket too, so I was in touch with my game. I’m only in the team because I was performing, after all.”

There’s a certain brusqueness in Asif that at times landed him in trouble. Not very long ago he faced disciplinary action after swatting his bat within inches of Kemo Paul’s face during a Caribbean Premier League game.

This tournament has been witnessing Asif’s transformation from a brat to a match-winner.

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