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June 14, 2019

I need to show more concentration, says Imam

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June 14, 2019

MANCHESTER: At the end of the 25th over, Pakistan’s run-chase seemed to be on the right course. They were 136-2 with opener Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez looking fully set. There was nothing worrying about the wicket and the Aussie attack wasn’t hurling any extra-ordinary deliveries at them either.

By then Imam had faced 74 balls for his 53. He knew he had to compensate for all the dot balls he had faced in his innings so far. More importantly, he knew he had to stay on the crease having seen the team’s mainstay Babar Azam getting out to a soft dismissal for 30.

In a nutshell, Imam knew much was resting on his shoulders as Pakistan began the second half of their innings.

But the very first ball of the 26th over that he faced from Pat Cummins, Imam made a costly error. He tried to pull the ball that was short down the leg side and would have been called a wide had he not attempted to hit it. Looking for a boundary, Imam could just glove it and Australian stumper Alex Carey picked up a comfortable catch.

“Was it a lapse of concentration,” I asked Imam as he took questions in the Mixed Zone after Pakistan’s 41-run defeat against the Aussies.

“I won’t say that,” he replied. “I mean, I think it was my bad luck that it touched my gloves,” he added.

But he was quick to add that he would try and concentrate more especially in key stages of the coming games. “I think I should show more concentration. But this is just the second time I’ve gotten out that way.”

Imam, who believes that Pakistan team depends mainly on his and the prolific Babar Azam, admitted that he was hugely disappointed over his failure to play a match-winning knock in Taunton.

“Obviously, I’m playing well - and this team depends on me and Babar (Azam),” said the 23-year-old Imam. “When Babar got out (for 30), it was then my responsibility and I was going well but it was not a good ball that got me out, the same as I did against the West Indies.

“I knew I’d spent a hell of a lot of time on a tricky wicket so I knew it wouldn't be easy for any new batsman to come in. So it was a huge disappointment because it’s a World Cup stage and if you get set, you really have to make it count if you want to stay in the tournament.

“If I’ve scored 30 in a winning side, that would be great, I’d be very happy. As a pro, if you’re winning matches for your country, that’s the best thing and if you’re not even if you score a fifty, that’s a huge disappointment.”

Imam stressed that Pakistan will need to put their best foot forward in what is almost a must-win game against arch-rivals India in Manchester on Sunday. “We’ve had one game rained off which was very important for us - every game now is very important for us, so yes you can say that.

“Obviously, to be part of that kind of game, it’s great. It’s in Manchester, lots of Pakistani fans there - so I’m really excited about it. “It’s a huge pressure game, obviously. Pakistan and India, there’s a lot of history behind that but we want to just focus on our cricket strengths and how we can get better,” he said.

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