Imam ul Haq rubbishes nepotism claims: ‘I am playing because Allah has destined it to be so’
At the World Cup, Imam-ul-Haq made 305 runs at 38.12. © AFP

Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq has again dismissed murmurs of nepotism surrounding his place in the team, after being questioned again about his relationship to Inzamam-ul-Haq, the current chairman of selectors.

Imam is Inzamam’s nephew, and since the time he was selected to represent Pakistan in 2017 the matter of nepotism has shadowed him.

On return to Lahore from England after Pakistan’s exit from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Imam was asked the question and told reporters that he was not bothered by talk of favouritism.

“I don’t care about the pros and cons of my relationship with him [Inzamam]. This is something that you people, the media, speak about,” he said. “Our public is innocent and they believe whatever they are told. I believe in Allah. I am playing because he has destined it to be so.

“But such talk has taught me a lot and made me strong mentally. It does hurt, but I try to take it positively. It is true that even if I perform in ten matches but fail in two, I am criticised. But I try not to be bothered and try to win my fans over with my performances. Neither you nor I can say what my future is. It is only Allah who knows. My responsibility is to perform and the rest is on up to the PCB.”

(READ: Muddled selection, loss to Australia cost Pakistan: Bazid Khan)

Imam, 23, finished the World Cup with 305 runs from ten innings, for an average of 38.12. In the team’s last match, against Bangladesh at Lord’s, he became the youngest Pakistan centurion in a World Cup with his seventh ODI century in his 36th game.

While the hundred count is special, as is an ODI batting average of 54.48, Imam repeatedly finds himself the subject of criticism regarding his strike-rate, which currently rests at 80.57. During the World Cup, it was 76.25.

Imam ul Haq Lords century
Imam, 23, became the youngest Pakistan batsman to score a hundred in a World Cup game. © AFP

“I do feel that I can improve my career strike rate from where it is today,” said Imam. “But, we have to realise my role in the team. I open with Fakhar, who is an aggressive batsman. He is given the role to play aggressive cricket while I have to anchor the innings. Babar and I have the same roles. Sometimes the opposition bowls well and you have give them the respect because of which things don’t go to plan for us. But whenever either of us has batted deep, we have touched 300-310.

(READ: Malik exits, Imam and Afridi chart Pakistan cricket’s next chapter)

“I am still in the process of learning and you continue to learn in international cricket with every new challenge. I still feel I am very young. I am very confident in my abilities and blessed to have team-mates who keep backing me. A player cannot be satisfied with his performances and I want to set the bar high for myself and continue to grow. Once I start to feel satisfied, I will stop learning.”

During a press conference at the Gaddafi Stadium, Imam was also asked if more runs from him could have helped Pakistan reach the World Cup semi-finals. He agreed it may have.

“I would have been very happy personally had I performed in the main matches, which would have benefitted the team,” said Imam. “I was trying to score big and follow up on my performances from the series against England, but sometimes things don’t turn out as planned. Perhaps we could have qualified had I started to perform earlier.

“We will learn from our experience. It was a good campaign as we won five out of nine and couldn’t qualify because of our net run-rate. We are also disappointed for that, as are our fans.”