Mohammad Amir, Imam-ul-Haq key to Pakistan’s resurgence, says Asif Iqbal

Pakistan face a daunting task ahead of them as they prepare for their two match Test series against England starting May 24, having won only two of their last 11 Test matches. The series will also be a telling point of Sarfraz Ahmed’s captaincy that got off to a shaky start in the longest format of the game after they were beaten by an inexperienced Sri Lankan side 2-0 in UAE.
One of Sarfraz’s latest inclusions to the team, debutant Imam-ul-Haq, whose selection to the team was overshadowed by his relation to Pakistan’s chief selector, his uncle Inzamam ul Haq, put up an unbeaten 74 to deny Ireland an unlikely Test debut victory on the fifth day of the Test at Malahide on Tuesday.
The winning knock will certainly help ease the pressure off the left-handed batsmen, who can further stake his claim for a spot in Pakistan’s Test side that will face England in two Tests at Lord’s from May 24 to May 28 and Headingley from June 1 to June 5 and possibly repay the faith with sturdy performances in England.
And former Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal, who has accumulated 3575 runs from his 58 Test appearances against some of the finest bowling opposition in the history of the sport, certainly seems confident of the 22-year-old’s abilities.
“Imam seems to have already replied to his critics with some good scores in both warm-up games and in the Test against Ireland so not much needs to be said about that,” Iqbal said speaking to PakPassion.net.
“Personally speaking, I have always been a strong advocate of sportsmen who when confronted with criticism simply respond to their critics by performing well on the field of play. They don’t need to come on television or speak to the media about the criticism levelled at them.
“A good performance on the field is all the response that is needed by Imam and he has done that to some extent. It is not his fault that he is the nephew of Inzamam-ul-Haq. The fact is that he is good enough and that is why he was chosen for the team and we hope he will do that in the coming days.”
Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir, who is expected to lead his team’s bowling attack against England despite the recurrence of his “chronic” left knee problem, recently claimed his 100th Test wicket against Ireland.
After retiring off just 3.2 overs on the third day, Amir made a swift comeback on Monday, the second last day of the historic Test to reach the landmark figure despite being banned for five years by the International Cricket Council (ICC) for his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal during a 2010 Test against England at Lord’s.
And now, after making his return to the international stage two years ago, the 26-year-old will be expected to better his record against the hosts, which saw him claim 11 wickets in Pakistan’s tour of England in 2016, a four match series that was drawn 2-2.
“There is always pressure on Amir to perform as he is clearly the spearhead of our bowling attack. Looking back a bit to the 2016 tour of England, where Amir made a comeback in Tests, he was terribly unlucky that so many catches off his bowling were dropped,” said Iqbal.
“This must have made a huge impact on his confidence but it seems that people have forgotten about that. Amir remains our best bowler and I know that when Azhar Mahmood spoke about wanting more from him, he was referring to lack of wickets and not the lack of effort which Amir cannot be faulted for. As I said, I firmly believe that he is our main bowler, and god willing, he will perform well for Pakistan,” he added.