LAHORE - Pakistan opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has dismissed the criticism of the Rawalpindi pitch where the first Test was played, saying that the hosts were playing to their strengths and that the wicket was the same for both teams.

Imam became only the 10th Pakistan batter and the third opener to score a century in both innings of a Test. Imam and Abdullah Shafique also set a new record for most runs scored by an opening pair against Australia. After the game ended in a draw, However, opener Imam-ul-Haq, while speaking to the media in a virtual press conference hosted by PCB, questioned the critics of pitch, saying whether Australia would ever prepare their pitches at home after consulting the opponent. “Nobody wants a draw. The curators did not prepare the pitch on my orders nor is he my relative. Cricket Australia also does not curate pitches on our advice when we tour Australia either. Every team curates pitches based on their strengths. It does not matter the type of pitch, my job is to perform.”

“But in Karachi, we are looking for a result in our favour. I think the Rawalpindi Test was played well as we managed to get all 10 wickets. Unfortunately, 70 overs were not played out due to bad light and rain but had those overs been bowled the result could have been different because we intended to make them bat again,” he added.

The left-hander batter said despite being with the Pakistan team for more than five years, there is still criticism around him and he is now used to it. “I am always criticized no matter if I am on the team or not. I am not sad about the criticism because my job is to perform. It is up to the management to decide whether my runs in the Rawalpindi Test match are quality or not. The sign after scoring the century was for the captain and my teammates. However, I will not reveal the reason behind it.”

Imam credited his parents and their prayers for his back-to-back hundreds. “When you play against opposition like Australia and you score runs, it is always an amazing feeling. My recent domestic stint helped me a lot. I have been a part of Pakistan’s side for the last year or so but I have been the 12th man and even that helped. I learned a lot sitting outside as I wanted to replicate my ODI performances in the Tests as well. I want to thank my parents for their prayers as well,” he concluded. Pakistan will take on Australia tomorrow (Saturday) in the second Test at the National Stadium Karachi and all eyes will be on the batting surface.