Imam-ul-Haq, the nephew of former Pakistan captain and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, noted that the youngsters in the camp would have to step up and perform in the forthcoming Test assignments against Ireland and England. The 22-year-old, who has played four ODIs for Pakistan, is set to make to his Test debut against Ireland, on Friday (May 11).
The left-handed batsman was in fine form in the two warm-up games that Pakistan played versus Kent and Northamptonshire, compiling a couple of fifties. “It’s a very proud feeling,” Imam said. “Everybody knows that Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have just retired and our young guys have to do a lot of work and step up. It’s always good to come and prove a point, and we’re looking forward to this series. I have been scoring runs in the two four-day matches and that gives me confidence. I’m very hopeful that I’ll do well in this series.
“Obviously it will be my first Test match, my first pressure match. I will be very nervous, I won’t lie – that’s what we play for, that’s my dream since I grew up, to play Test cricket for your country. I didn’t think I would play my first Test match in Ireland, so it’s different but as a sportsman you have to be ready for everything.”
When Ireland take on Pakistan in Dublin, the home side will be embarking on a new journey – the country’s inaugural Test match. The hosts will be looking to revive the memories of the 2007 World Cup when they caused an upset by defeating Pakistan at Jamaica. “I remember that match, it was a very big day for Ireland cricket and a very sad day for Pakistan,” Imam said. “But in sport, these things happen. On the same day, India lost as well against Bangladesh, so we were happy. Jokes apart, it was a sad day for Pakistan as a nation, so hopefully we’ll get our own back by winning the Test.
“They are playing their first Test match, so we want to give them good luck, it’s very good for Irish cricket. We hope they will play good and be a very good side in future.”
Pakistan were ranked No.1 in the longest format of the game in 2016. However, since then, they have slipped in the rankings and are now placed a lowly seventh. Imam observed that the tourists have a young side as they look to rebuild after the retirements of of Younis and Misbah.
“Cricket is a funny game and you can’t take any side lightly,” Imam said. “We have to do our best, and we have to prove a point and win the game. It doesn’t matter, against Ireland or England, we have to play good cricket and that will give us confidence, and make our youngsters to do well in the England series. The conditions are difficult, as you see the rain and the wicket will be tough because it’s early [summer] here.
“It’s a very young side Test cricket is different, you need patience over here and it tests your fitness as well. Back home we had a very tough camp, so we are very hopeful and very excited. We’re hoping to do something very special here inshallah.”