Central Punjab skipper Hasan Ali came close to sealing one of the most dramatic comebacks in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy history when he almost vaulted his team past the finishing line in the final against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
With the incumbent champions staring down the barrel of a lopsided defeat, Hasan produced a knock for the ages to rescue his team from dire straits. Hasan's extraordinary 106 not out from 61 deliveries resulted in a rare tied encounter, seeing both teams share the coveted trophy.
Reflecting upon his herculean effort, Hasan claimed Ben Stokes' remarkable century in the Ashes-saving win at Headingley in 2019 served as a source of inspiration for his blistering counterattack.
Stokes was at the center of one of most iconic innings witnessed in Test cricket when he powered England's unbelievable one-wicket win over Australia on the back of his stunning 135 not out. Stokes expertly batted with the tail including an unbeaten 76-run stand for the last wicket as England chased down 359 on day four.
Faced with a similarly arduous task, Hasan batted with a carefree approach reminiscent of Stokes' dazzling ton.
"I feel proud to have achieved my maiden century when the team required it the most," he said in the post-match presentation ceremony. "Ben Stokes' Ashes miracle was also playing in mind when I was batting. But this happens, this is the reality and you can't win everything. At the end of the day, it is a victory for cricket."
Shedding light on the motive behind his explosive strokeplay, Hasan stated he felt like he had nothing to lose and swung hard to shift the momentum towards Central Punjab.
He was successful in carrying out his plan only for No. 11 Waqas Maqsood to chip the ball to mid-on when the scores were level.
"The time I walked out to bat, we were obviously under pressure after losing back-to-back wickets. I came out with a positive mindset to play a shot on every delivery pitched in my radar," Hasan recalled. "We had nothing to lose and made the right decision at the right time and I want to appreciate the way Ahmed Safi and Waqas Maqsood played with me. My innings was special for the team to help tie the match."
Known for his lively disposition and animated character on the field, the 26-year-old talked about the unflappable sense of self-belief that kept him going even when the game seemed realistically out of CP's grasp.
"I am the kind of person who has a strong sense of self-belief. When I spoke with my coach, I told him the scenario of the game will depend on my stay at the crease.
"I'm sure the opposition was not even expecting it in their dreams that I would turn up with an innings like this," he added on a lighter note.
Hasan's unabated batting aggression was embodied by the bold first-innings declaration as his team was trailing KP's total by 43 runs. He said the small lead attained by KP at that point was enough to push for a Central Punjab win and called for the close of the innings.
"We had also planned to play long [in the first innings] but we were disrupted by the loss of quick wickets. Nevertheless, we knew we still had a chance if we declare early," Hasan narrated.
"The coach asked for my opinion for an early declaration and I agreed with him. Both teams had six points each after the first innings, which is why we opted for a declaration at that stage."