The first time Hasan Ali really earned his international chops was an incongruous moment. He wasn't an unknown in that few cricketers by that stage are truly unknown. He had been a breakout star in the first PSL the same year, so people had seen him bowl and made early assessments. But even there, infamously, a veteran Pakistani journalist had publicly ridiculed him by asking to his face at a press conference who he was and why he was there.
Here now was an answer. It was Hasan's final over of the innings in which he had gone for 69 already. That doesn't sound great except that England, with an over to go, were 438-3. That's right - thatgame. Four-four-four.
That final over, though, was fantastic, a mix of length deliveries with slight variations in pace, with some genuine slower balls thrown in, including one from the back of the hand. Jos Buttler was 85 off 47 at over's start and Eoin Morgan 57 off 25. Hasan conceded just five off the bat. It was an over Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, in his mid-2000s, pre-mullet and hair transplant peak, could have produced. It was the smallest victory, but because it was only Hasan's third ODI and came at the end of such an onslaught, it was an important one. This short, wiry kid who didn't look like a fast bowler, could be a fast bowler.
From there, through Australia (a first five-for in Sydney), through the Champions Trophy (the tournament's leading wicket-taker) to the end of 2017, Hasan was the world's pre-eminent ODI bowler. By some distance. Nobody, not Rashid Khan, not Adil Rashid, not Jasprit Bumrah, not Trent Boult, not even Kagiso Rabada.
Maybe, as Alex Ferguson once quipped of Gary Neville, Hasan lacked a couple of inches to be a great fast bowler (in Neville's case, a great centre-back) and didn't have extreme pace, but these didn't feel important. He was smart - remember the Eoin Morgan dismissal in the Champions Trophy? First over back, pitch one up, pitch one slightly shorter, both on off and tight and having sensed Morgan was itching to step out, a third one slightly wider and fuller to catch the edge.
With it, the skills were in place: reverse-swing, a mean bag of slower balls, solid yorkers, and a skiddy bouncer.
Since then, however, things have turned. He returns to the scene of that final over, against the same opponents on Monday and where that game was the launchpad for his rise, he is here a bowler in an early-career rut. He's still taken as many wickets as any Pakistani fast bowler since the start of 2018 but those numbers are different gravy, except in a bad way.
Hasan Ali in ODIs since 2017
In 2019 the numbers are even grimmer and have only passed unnoticed because of the focus on Amir's form. Some of Hasan's vim, some vitality has dimmed. Even that wicket-taking celebration feels like it needs a reboot. But then if you're part of a side that's lost 11 completed ODIs in a row, that's a reasonable thing to have happened.
What has happened? Pakistan insist he's working as hard as he was before (and he is a ferocious trainer). They don't think his performances have dipped that badly, although by numbers that is an impossible case to hold. Neither has his average pace dropped. According to Cricviz, his average pace by year since his debut has been 131kph in 2016, 135kph in 2017, 136kph in 2018 and 134kph so far this year.
It's worth noting - though not drawing too much from just yet - that in this second phase, he has become a Test regular. And he's actually grown with the red ball; it was overlooked in all the praise for Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah in Pakistan's last home season that Hasan had a stellar series against New Zealand, taking 13 wickets.
Logically, though, it makes sense to place his dip against the recent broader dysfunction of Pakistan's ODI bowling in the same time. Amir had not, until the last game against West Indies, been taking wickets. Pakistan have inducted inexperienced bowlers such as Shaheen Afridi, Usman Shinwari and Mohammad Hasnain, in the process changing the nature of Hasan's role. And it's not said often enough but Rumman Raees's injury-enforced absence and rehabilitation issues has taken a huge toll. It's no coincidence that he last played an ODI in January 2018, the moment when the performance of Pakistan's attack had fallen off a cliff.
That has, at least, changed the situation into which Hasan usually arrives in an innings at first or second change. In that first phase of his career, Hasan would often have the relative luxury of coming on to bowl with a wicket or two down. Only seven times out of 24 innings, in fact, did he come on with the opposition opening pair still batting. In those games, he averaged 25.43 but when at least a wicket or two was down, his average fell to around 16.
Hasan Ali in ODIs since 2018 v the top 10 teams
1 to 10
11 to 40
41 to 50
Since 2018, he's come on to bowl with no wickets down as many as 11 times out of 21 innings. In those games his average has shot up to 63. His averages when one or more wicket is down improves (around 30) but again, it's not at his pre-2018 levels.
Pakistan's lack of success with the new ball, in other words, has affected Hasan's performances which, when you think about it, is an obvious finding: most bowlers are more dangerous when some wickets are down. It's worth wondering too what a slight dip in Shadab Khan's performances in the same time (since 2018), hitherto an ally during those middle overs, has meant for Hasan.
But the lack of success with the new ball has actually pressed Pakistan into opening with Hasan. He's only opened the bowling seven times in his career but three of those occasions have been in the last three ODIs - and that was the first time he'd done it since January 2018.
A World Cup underway, more pressing than the reasons is the answer, which would appear obvious: for Hasan to come good, Pakistan's entire attack needs to come good.