While Younus Khan, Shan Masood, Imran Khan and Sarfraz Ahmed were busy scripting a scarcely believable back against the wall win in Pallekele, Muhammad Hafeez was shuttling in between Chennai and Colombo during the third and fourth day of the Test.
In the Chennai Biomechanics lab, the man nicknamed ‘The Professor’ went through the rigours of a bowling action test for the umpteenth time in his chequered 12 year international career.
The bowling action test is an arduous process with sensors wired and plugged to various parts of the body. The bowler has to bowl ball after ball under the scrutiny of extremely sophisticated cameras and processing equipment.
And Hafeez has gone through the procedure thrice in six months. He was tested and suspended from bowling in December, and then took another test to have the initial ban overturned in April. He was also tested and cleared in Australia during the early stages of his career.
On the return flight to Colombo and the subsequent three-hour road journey to Pallekele, the 34 year-old must have mulled over his future at length. He would have been haunted by the thoughts of failing the Biomechanics test again and the prospect of a yearlong bowling ban.
Hafeez arrived at Pallekele in time to see Younus and Misbahul Haq administer the last rites on the hosts; the joy in the camp must have rubbed off on him too, must have eased his pain just a tad.
The result of the Chennai ‘exam’ isn’t out yet and in Dambulla yesterday, Hafeez donned the Pakistan green and delivered an all-round masterclass to lead the six-wicket rout.
Hafeez is allowed to bowl while those in Chennai compile his report based on the findings of those sophisticated cameras. The irony is that Hafeez might be slapped with a ban, only a day or two after he recorded his best bowling figures.
Who says it’s a fair world?
Hafeez scales new heights
The all-rounder was at his absolute best during Pakistan’s commanding six-wicket win in the first ODI of the five-match series.
Batting first, Sri Lanka had almost nullified the new ball attack of Muhammad Irfan and Rahat Ali when captain Azhar Ali introduced Hafeez into the attack.
On just the third ball of his opening over — the 8th of the innings — the off-spinner sent Kusal Perera back with a perfectly pitched delivery from round the stumps.
His second scalp arrived on the fourth ball of his second spell and by the time he was done in the 43rd over of the innings, Hafeez had collected his best ODI figures of 4-46.
With the bat he arrived at the wicket after Pakistan lost Ahmed Shehzad after a 47-run opening stand. After some initial jitters the right-hander struck in and assumed control of the potentially tricky 256-run chase with an outstanding batting display.
When in full flow, the Hafeez drive— both lofted and along the ground — is a treat to watch and the batsman displayed his full range in a serene 93-ball century.
Hafeez perished soon afterwards as his impetuosity eventually caused his demise, but the game was already well beyond the reach of Angelo Mathews and his men.
Pakistan coasted home soon after and Hafeez collected a richly deserved man-of-the-match. The biomechanists at Chennai, meanwhile, continue to calculate the ‘flex’ in Hafeez’s elbow.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2015.
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