We will have to play good cricket in Karachi against tough Australia, says Imam-ul-Haq

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Knowing well that Australia are tough and can come hard, Pakistan’s left-handed opener Imam-ul-Haq on Thursday said that they will have to play good cricket in the Karachi Test which will begin here at the National Stadium from Saturday (tomorrow).

“Definitely Karachi Test is very important. I think Australia is a sort of side which makes a good comeback and comes very hard. We will have to be on the toes and play very good cricket,” Imam told a virtual news conference.

Imam achieved a big milestone when he became the tenth Pakistani batsman to score centuries in both innings of a Test when he did this against Australia in the first Test in Pindi.

He said his first-class performances and his association with the Pakistan’s Test team as a 12th man helped him a lot in making a strong comeback.

“Obviously when you play against Australia at home conditions and God blesses you with such a performance it cannot be explained in words,” Imam said. “My first-class performances helped me a lot. I have been representing Pakistan for the last five years but during the last one and a half year I was not in the playing XI, although I was part of the squad as a 12th man and that also helped me,” he said. “I learnt a lot while sitting outside and analysed my mistakes. I worked hard with coaches. There was a process and I tried that the way I had performances in ODI I could bring them into Test cricket. Thanks God and due to prayers of parents that I made a fine comeback,” said Imam.

Imam said that that they should look into their own strength while preparing wickets.

“No one wants a draw. When we go to Australian conditions they don’t prepare wickets by consulting with us but they prepare tracks according to their own strength. We should look into our strength and we also will try that the next game at Karachi produces result,” Imam said.

“I think Pindi match was very well as we also bowled out their entire team. In my opinion 70 overs were wasted due to bad light and rain. Had that not happened then we would have forced them to bat again. Unfortunately it did not happen but now we are looking forward to the Karachi Test and InshaAllah top effort would be made to win this game,” said the opener, who is also a permanent part of Pakistan’s ODI team.

He also credited Karachi camp for sound performance in the first Test.

“Our camp at Karachi was very productive. The batsmen were getting long batting. Those wickets were tough for us and ball was not traveling. The match-scenario matches remained tougher,” he said.

He lauded batting coach Mohammad Yousuf for the way he guides the batsmen.

“As far as Mohammad Yousuf is concerned so this is his first assignment as a batting coach. The best in him is that he does not make you complicated. He asks us about our needs and tries not to complicate the things. Yousuf did not talk on techniques but yes he talked about tactical things and in a positive frame of mind,” Imam said.

Reacting to a question Imam said he faces criticism whether he performs or not.

“Whether my position is settled in the team or unsettled and whether I perform or not I will have to face criticism. I have played for five years and have played around 60 matches for the country. Even after that criticism comes. I have no pain and this is very normal to me. Our opening pair had Abid Ali, Imran Butt and then Abdullah came. I was with the team but was not in the playing XI. My job is to perform and whether it is a quality innings or not I know it from my think-tanks and my coaches and skipper who are more important for me. How they guide me, expect from me and rate me. Their words are more important for me. It makes no difference how outsiders rate my innings. People have their own opinions and I respect all,” Imam said.

Imam said he is ready to play in any condition and on any sort of track.

“I had not told the curator to prepare the pitch. He is not my relative. It was a wicket for all, also for Australia who we bowled out and no hundred came from them. I think Karachi wicket will be the same which we play on in the first-class. I will not play for the first time in Karachi. My previous performances were offshore as I have played Tests in England, South Africa and Ireland. Whether it will be green or low wicket, or brown, my job is to play cricket and I will play. The rest is in the hands of God. My job is to believe in practice,” he said.

He said in coming matches runs at a good strike rate will be seen from Pakistan’s side.

“Look, Australia are No1 side, having top three-ranked bowlers and sometimes they keep run-rate slow as per fielding positions. We always try to make our run-rate better and work is also being done on this zone. InshaAllah you will see improvement in the coming matches,” Imam said.