Hamid Hassan’s Headingley heartbreak

The second innings of the Pakistan game had begun on a cheerful note for Afghanistan’s inspirational fast bowler Hamid Hassan. His teammates gave him a guard of honour as he stepped on to the field for the final time in a One-Day International, having announced his decision to quit the format ahead of the game. He nearly struck with his first ball as a back-of-a-length delivery climbed steeply on Imam-ul-Haq, just evading his gloves on the way to the wicket-keeper.
Hassan, who clearly enjoyed producing a magic ball first up, even brandished a scared-by-a-ghost expression at Imam before breaking into a toothy grin. On evidence of just the first ball, the Pakistan game could have been his golden moment, a fitting final dose of inspiration to an embattled Afghanistan squad before hanging up his boots. Instead, it felt as if every one of his final game dreams was run over by a road roller, which then backed up and ran over them for a second time.
For midway through his second over, Hamid’s hamstring gave away. He completed the over before realising he could no longer continue and walked off the field, for the last time in the Afghanistan ODI blue. “It wasn’t my wish to go like this to be honest,” he said, having hobbled his way to the Open Media session at the end of the game. “I was very, very keen and very happy. I was playing my last ODI and was in very good mood. I played [bowled] a very good first over with pace. I was ready to go, but suddenly I don’t know what happened, second over my hamstring was totally like gone. I felt like something was broken inside [the] hamstring. I couldn’t walk.“Maybe [I pushed myself too much]… I don’t know. I was very excited. As I said I was ready to go and I don’t know… Allah knows everything better, because he might have written something else in my destiny… ‘that you’ll bowl two overs and then you have to say bye bye to cricket.’”Hamid’s injury hampered Afghanistan’s defence of 227 with captain Gulbadin Naib having to bowl the full quota of 10 overs. Rahmat Shah, who pulled up with a sore shoulder just after he was called up to bowl, had to be replaced in the attack by Samiullah Shinwari, further crippling the team’s bowling resources. But it was Hamid’s overs that Afghanistan most missed as the game headed to a tense finish.
With 46 to defend off the final five overs, Naib brought himself on to bowl, but ended up conceding 18 runs as Imad Wasim broke free from the shackles of the spinners that bowled before. It was a decisive blow to Afghanistan’s hopes of registering their first win of this World.