Mohammad Hafeez certainly does not seem to have aged. He may have turned 40 last month but has had an incredible resurgence to his career ever since he was dropped for the Australia tour late last year.
After being considered surplus to requirements along with another veteran, Shoaib Malik, following Pakistan's disastrous 2019 World Cup campaign, Mohammad Hafeez has undergone a remarkable renaissance.
Few could ever doubt his importance to the team, particularly his services for Pakistan in Test matches under the leadership of former captain Misbah ul-Haq; Mohammad Hafeez was a vital cog in that lineup.
Mohammad Hafeez's rousing comeback to the T20 side
Ever since his comeback to the team this year, albeit in the T20 format, Mohammad Hafeez slammed an unbeaten 67 against Bangladesh.
He followed that up by scoring a belligerent 69 off 36 balls against England in his next match before ending the series with a match-winning 86 not out against the same opposition.
In all these three innings, Mohammad Hafeez scored at an impressive strike-rate of over 160. And if that was not enough, he proved on Sunday why his experience has no match.
In the PSL 2020 eliminator against Peshawar Zalmi, Mohammad Hafeez masterfully coordinated the run-chase for Lahore Qalandars to seal a berth for his team in the second playoff. Coming into bat at 25/2, Mohammad Hafeez, as usual, took time to settle, which has become a hallmark of his batting.
However, he soon shifted gears by the seventh over; Mohammad Hafeez completed a 34-ball fifty after scoring just eight of his first ten, with Hardus Viljoen bearing the brunt of Hafeez's assault.
Mohammad Hafeez's experience came to the fore as he capitalised on Peshawar's weakness: their medium pacers. Hafeez specifically targeted Carlos Brathwaite and Viljoen to devastating effect.
The game-changing over arrived in the 18th of the Qalandar innings, when Hafeez slammed 16 runs off Saqib Mahmood's bowling to bring the equation down to twenty runs off two overs. David Weise added the final flourish to take Qalandars home as Mohammad Hafeez finished with an impressive unbeaten 74 off 46.
Mohammad Hafeez in the PSL last night:
💥 74* runs from 46 balls
💥 9 fours, 2 sixes
💥 160.87 strike-rate
— ICC (@ICC) November 15, 2020
While performances like these are undoubtedly world-class, Mohammad Hafeez has often been guilty of failing to show his temperament in crunch moments before, which has made him an inconsistent player.
It is quite ironic that someone of his talent has only managed a T20 international average of 26.9 after 96 games. For most of his international career, he has failed to pay justice to his potential, but it seems that this year has finally brought the best version of Mohammad Hafeez that his fans have been craving for a while.
An astute individual with commendable leadership abilities, Mohammad Hafeez, seems to have finally hit his stride at the ripe old age of 40.
While he is no longer in consideration for ODIs and Test matches, Mohammad Hafeez is showing off his value in the game's shortest format. No wonder he was not dropped from the team's T20I squad, unlike his contemporary Shoaib Malik.
This year has been nothing short of a renaissance for the Sargodha hero. And it seems in many ways that he has found support from the management as well.
Mohammad Hafeez did not have good spells under the managements of Mickey Arthur and Waqar Younis, failing to strike the right rapport with either of them. However, things seem to have changed with his good friend Misbah-ul-Haq at the helm as next year's T20 World Cup in Australia beckons.
If he continues his good form for a year along with the likes of Babar Azam and Haider Ali, Mohammad Hafeez might be the defining factor for Pakistan at the T20 World Cup next year.