Does Imam-ul-Haq, the new ODI number 3 batsman, face unnecessary criticism?

The player who has always been under the radar of critics since the first day of his selection is none other than Imam-ul-Haq, the left-handed batsman who made his debut in 2017. From being called “parchi” because of his relation to Inzamam-ul-Haq to being accused of having a place in the team because of his friendship with the skipper, he has seen it all. But is the criticism unnecessary is the real question?

Did Imam-ul-Haq do Justice to his Inclusion in the Test Series?

The 26-year old’s recent performances both in test and ODI speak for themselves. He was preferred over Shan Masood- the man who was quite phenomenal in this year’s PSL in the test series. Before the team even started to play against the mighty Aussies in the first test match, people were already quite frustrated at Imam-ul-Haq’s inclusion in the team

However, the views changed when he smashed back to back centuries in Pindi cricket stadium, scoring a total of 268 runs. He failed to add valuable runs to the scoreboard in the second test match which was held in National Stadium Karachi. 

This made him once again face denunciation, some called his previous performance a fluke and some called him a flat pitch bully. In the last and third test match at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore witnessed Imam-ul-Haq once again scoring runs in the second innings. He couldn’t help Pakistan win the game but ended up making 70 runs.

The Opener Once Again Proves Successful in Giving Answers to the Critics with his Bat

While his performance was above average in the test series, people still had their doubts about him. Nevertheless, it would be quite absurd to question his inclusion in ODI, especially after his performance in the recent series. 

Imam-ul-Haq scored centuries in both the first games. If this was not applaudable enough, he ended up scoring 89 runs while remaining not out in the third game. His partnership with Babar Azam in the last match, made Pakistan chase the target quite comfortably. Maybe if there were more runs put up by Australian batsmen on the scoreboard, the opener would have gotten his third century too.

He was undoubtedly the second candidate for the player of the series and it would not be wrong to say that Babar Azam did win it against him by the barest of margins. Imam couldn’t win the jeep but he did end up winning people’s hearts. 

Also Read: Babar Azam breaks Mohammad Yousuf’s record! See it here

The Stats and Ranking that Speak for Themselves

Imam-ul-Haq who was the second batsman for Pakistan and the thirteenth overall to score a century on his debut has now climbed up to the third position in the ICC ODI batting ranking. This makes him the second Pakistani batsman after Babar to earn his place on the list. If we look at the stats, the opener has featured in 49 international ODI games. He scored a total of 2321 runs with an average of 53.21 and a strike rate of 82.53. He has 9 hundred and 5 fifties in his record. 

Room for Improvement 

Imam’s strike rate was a problem for many fans but seems like that issue has been resolved too. His power play strike rate was 66.4 before this series but in this series, it has jumped to 84. This is considered to be quite a decent strike rate which means ample improvement has been made. 

Imam’s OD Strike Rate inside PowerPlay Comparison 

Before Pakistan vs Australia ODI series66.4
During Pakistan vs Australia ODI series 84

Though in this series, he was excellent while striking the ball. In contrast to his career strike rate in the 80s, Imam batted with a strike rate of over 100 in the ODI series. 

Imam’s One Day International Strike Rate Comparison 

Before Pakistan vs Australia ODI series80.20
During Pakistan vs Australia ODI series 101.70

The southpaw batter played almost 300 balls, which is equivalent to 50 overs. This series showed that Inzamam’s nephew has been taking the game into his hands while keeping the strike rate as high, keeping Pakistan ahead in the game. 

To conclude, it does seem that the 29-year-old batsman faces unnecessary criticism. While constructive criticism is necessary for any player to succeed, it’s about time the trolls stop targeting him, calling him names, or questioning his place in the squad. Moreover, even if he struggles in tests, it’s not right to hold that card against him in ODI.

Remaining Humble in the Face of Unnecessary criticism and Scoring Runs is the Motto of the Left-handed Batsman

The man himself is aware of being a target of critics. In the after-match presentation, Zainab abbas inquired whether the critics should keep criticizing him because his performance keeps improving to which he jokingly replied “that’s not what I’m saying” 

Furthermore, when asked if he wants to give a reply to the critics, he simply replied; 

“I respect everyone and I really thank almighty Allah [when] they criticize me. The thing which I have changed in myself is that I just can control what is in my control and that is my cricket. I really want to focus on that. If you play in a match for Pakistan against any team, you will be criticized” 

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