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Regret letting Pakistan down in World Cup match against Australia, says Imam

Updated July 09, 2019

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Babar Azam (L) and Imam-ul-Haq address a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
Babar Azam (L) and Imam-ul-Haq address a press conference in Lahore on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

Opener Imam-ul-Haq on Tuesday acknowledged that the Pakistan team should have won their World Cup match against Australia and regretted that his dismal performance in that game contributed to the Green Shirts' loss.

"That match was very much going in our favour and I was set [on the pitch]. But then I got out and Pakistan was let down because of me," Imam said while addressing a press conference in Lahore.

Sitting alongside him was star batsman Babar Azam, who too said he should not have gotten out in the match against Australia. "It was my mistake that I played a bad shot. If I hadn't been dismissed maybe there would have been good results."

Imam regretted that his maiden World Cup century hadn't come in his team's earlier matches. "At the same time, this is cricket. You have to learn from your mistakes. Not everything can go the way you want it to," he said.

Vowing to improve his performance in the future, Imam noted that the Pakistani fans and the team were "upset" that they were unable to qualify for the semi-finals due to a low net run-rate.

"I wanted to contribute more, but that's life. Humans learn from their mistakes and so will I," he said.

Asked to comment on reports that the selection committee would be dissolved, Imam said his job was only to perform and these matters were for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to decide.

Babar acknowledged that their chastening seven-wicket defeat by the West Indies in the first match of the World Cup had haunted them till the very end.

Related: Prolific Babar reaches third spot in ODI rankings

But "all teams come with preparation and unfortunately we were not able to score well in the first match", he said.

Imam was, once again, asked to comment on the allegations that he enjoyed the advantage of being the nephew of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, to which he responded: "I only believe in my hard work. My mental toughness has risen a lot now; [the allegations] do hurt a lot but I take it in a positive way.

"Where I have my critics, I also have fans and I try to keep my fans happy."

Read: An open apology to Imamul Haq and his uncle Inzamam

Answering a question, Imam conceded that his strike rate could use improvement, but also stressed that the role he is given by the management is to anchor the overs.

He also said there was no questioning the fact that Pakistan's fielding in the World Cup had been "terrible", but dismissed the idea that the players were not receiving good enough fielding training.

The duo was also asked what impact the presence of the chief selector during the tournament had on the team's performance. "I don't think our performance will be improved or worsened by the chief selector accompanying the team [during the World Cup] or not," Imam responded, adding that it would be "harsh" to blame Inzamam's presence for the team's inconsistent performance in the first five matches.

Babar said that after losing the match against India, it was only natural that whatever the players did would be used to criticise them — even something as innocuous as yawning, something skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed earned a lot of ridicule for.

"It happens. I too can do it and so can he [Imam], sometimes even during batting," Babar said of the infamous Sarfaraz yawn that became the fodder for countless memes on social media.

Agreeing with his teammate, Imam asked the media and public to criticise their cricket if they so wish, "but please keep our personal lives a little separate".

Imam also asked for "time" when a reporter compared Pakistani batsmen's performances with the splendid knocks by two other South Asian players: India's Rohit Sharma and Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan.

"This was our first World Cup. We are around 24 years old and will take a bit of time [to reach that level]," Imam said, adding that it was premature to expect "Virat Kohli-like performances" from them after only 40-50 matches.