Deconstructing Haider Ali
Talk to every batting coach out there and you’ll find everyone insisting on having a good, powerful set-up, which allows a batter to either go forward or back. Just imagine yourself as a boxer in a ring, ready to pounce on the opponent.
Haider’s set-up is quite orthodox, he stands relatively side-on with his chest, though his lower half (hips, feet) are open. He also keeps his hands nice and tight towards his body as it normally gives the batsman more control in his shots. If the hands start going more away from the body, that can lead to balance related issues and it will also make the bat a lot heavier.
A lot of batsmen have trigger moves, which gets them ‘set’ and deliver the knockout punch you would say. This part is equally crucial, as batsmen tend to lose the plot with this. Like a lot of batters, Haider moves across to the off-side, keeping his front foot slightly out of the way and slightly open.
Post trigger position
The front foot keeping slightly open is an indication that he doesn’t want himself to close off a lot, keeping his eyes nice and level at a decent angle.
The back lift
This part is quite interesting as his comparisons have been drawn with Babar Azam. The back lifts are quite contrasting. The position of his hands are a bit higher to start with. When he takes his bat back at the top of swing, the bat is in an unweighted position whereas Babar keeps the bat face parallel to the ground.
Comparison of back lifts
Since Haider has a taller frame, he will tend to fall away just a touch as he steps into a drive.
Touch and power game
As we have seen in the recent PSL, Haider has a decent touch game i.e. using the pace of the quicker bowlers to open the face to hit the ball square or even behind. Think of his cover drives against Mohammad Hasnain and Naseem Shah.
His power game has been quite impressive in the PSL. We saw clearing the fence with ease a multiple times. Anything just short of a good length was dispatched over mid-wicket quite easily. Balls fuller than that length were smeared back over the bowler’s head.
Now, there are a few ways to clear the fence. Some players would rely on timing while others would make the most of their body to hit the ball out of the park. As I look at one of his shots, he certainly uses a lot of his body to hit the ball. Obviously the intent and mindset is so important as it leads to getting into stronger positions. Let’s take a closer look.
So for example, if you see him in the image below, he has stepped into the ball and his base is quite wide, which gives more stability to the batsman. You won't see modern way of power hitting with narrow base. The other thing is that the toe of his bat is pointing upwards and his bat is in unweighted position (the bat feels lighter in this position which makes it easier to swing in any direction). ‘Hands above the elbow’ as famous power hitting coach Julian Wood says. His shoulders have rotated backwards which makes his front shoulder dip, meaning he is on the right track to explode into the ball.
This is one of the most crucial part in power hitting i.e. hip-shoulder separation because it creates an elastic band effect in the body (check the image below this paragraph). The upper half (blue line) separates against the lower half (red line), stretching the body like a rubber band. See the stretch on his shirt (just above the red line) as his body separates.
So as he begins to swing, I’ve drawn a line to show how he maintains a decent bat lag, which allows the batsman to snap his wrists through the shot. The term lag simply means your bat is trailing behind your hands as the toe of the bat is higher than the hands. That is achieved by hinging the wrists and then using the bat as a whip action.
Maintaining a 'bat lag'
I’ve drawn a line for this purpose to show that he maintains a solid angle and not dumps his bat off. If his bat had dumped off, the tip of the bat would’ve crossed the line.
Again, he keeps his angles nice as his bat doesn’t dump off too early (see image below).
Toe end of the handle pointing towards the ball, ready to crush it
As his hips and upper body rotate, the front leg straightens up, which means his hips are driving against the front leg. His head stays back which allows the hips to rotate more easily and give it a full swing. The angle of his feet obviously play a massive part in all this. The laces of the back foot are pointing forwards which certainly aids in more hip rotation. The angle of the front foot is crucial as well. If his left foot was pointing towards point, that would’ve restricted the rotation of the hips as well.
To sum it up, Haider Ali ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to hitting the ball hard. Whether he breaks into the Pakistan side is another debate, he is certainly a player to watch out for the future.
The writer tweets at @WaqasZafar11