From Zero to Hero: The Meteoric Rise of Imam hul Haq

Parchi- The underrated rise of Imam Ul Haq.

Australia was coming to Pakistan after a long wait of 24 years, and the whole country was jubilant and excited to welcome the Aussies. The PSL fever had just got down, and now the Aussies were here. Pakistan Cricket was celebrating each and every moment. But there was one problem for the Head Coach and the selectors, who should replace the injured Abid Ali as the opener? Would it be the in-form Shan Masood who had taken the PSL by storm with Multan Sultans, or should it be the player who had toured to many countries in the past as the stand-in opener, Imam Ul Haq?

Shan Masood was in the form of his life, playing extraordinary cricket in the domestic circuit and continuing that into the PSL, helping Multan on their way to the finals but was it enough to replace a player who has shown immense patience on the bench waiting for his chance and now that it was here, would Shan barge in and take his chance? Another aspect that favoured Shan was his ability to play the short ball, which the Pakistani batters would have to face in plenty against the Aussie trio of Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc.

The management and the captain showed their faith in Imam and handed him his 12th test cap, and Imam paid back every bit of the faith Babar Azam and the management had shown in him. He went on to score centuries in both the innings of the first Test; even though the pitch was good for the batsmen, he still had to put his bat onto the ball, and he did that marvellously well but didn’t get talked about enough after the series due to Babar’s performances, and that is the summary of Imam’s career so far, he has been performing amazingly but has gone under the radar due to his sensational captain’s performances. 

Imam was named in the squad for the series against Sri Lanka, but even before Imam had stepped on to play his first international match, he was labelled as ‘Parchi’, a product of nepotism since he was the nephew of former Pakistan Captain Inzamam Ul Haq, who was the Chief Selector at the time Imam made his debut. He made his debut against Sri Lanka and silenced the critics by becoming only the second Pakistani batsman to score a hundred on his ODI debut.

He followed this with a great tour of Zimbabwe, where he amassed three centuries and became the fastest player to score 4 centuries in ODI’s, doing so in 9 matches and becoming the second-fastest batsman to score 1000 runs in ODI’s only behind his opening partner, Fakhar Zaman.

Imam isn’t a Fakhar sort of a batsman who plays flamboyant blows over the boundary. Neither is he a Babar Azam whose drives look like Picasso’s work. Imam has his own way. He paces his innings extremely well, and even when he isn’t able to get a quick start, he catches up and scores a run-a-ball 50, which is an elite ability.

Imam and Babar have had a stellar 2022 individually and together as well. Their partnership looks so comfortable and easy to the eye with the running between the wickets and the occasional boundaries. They have already become Pakistan’s second-best partnership with 8-century partnerships only behind the greats, Younis and Yousuf’s 9.

Babar’s extraordinary start to 2022, amassing nine 50+ scores on the trot, has resulted in Imam’s brilliant form going under the radar as he himself amassed seven 50+ scores on the trot in the ODI’s which resulted in him getting a career-best #2 in the Men’s ODI Batsman Ranking replacing Virat Kohli at the top behind his captain.

Imam has partnered with Babar extremely well throughout his career and performed well individually. It is high time for the fans to get rid of the nepotism tag he has to walk with. He has performed to stay in the side since his debut.

With Babar at #1 and Imam at #2, times are great for Pakistan Cricket, and the stereotype of Pakistan traditionally being a bowling-heavy side is broken now, even though Shaheen Shah Afridi might refuse that. Stay Tuned with The Sportsway for more updates.

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