Our mistakes resulted in losses, not England’s aggression: Imam

Published December 16, 2022
KARACHI: Pakistan’s players in action during a net practice session at the National Stadium on Thursday.
—Tahir Jamal/White Star
KARACHI: Pakistan’s players in action during a net practice session at the National Stadium on Thursday. —Tahir Jamal/White Star

KARACHI: Pakistan went down to England in the first two Tests of their ongoing three-match series due to their own mistakes rather than the visitors’ ultra-aggressive style of play, the hosts’ opener Imam-ul-Haq said on Thursday.

The Babar Azam-led side failed to chase down fairly gettable targets of 343 and 355 in the Rawalpindi and Multan Tests respectively after being close on both occasions.

England captain Ben Stokes’ bold declaration late on the penultimate day after they had plundered the Pakistan bowlers for more than 900 runs over two innings may be credited for the visitors’ triumph in the first Test.

In Multan, however, England were not great with the bat, thanks to debutant spinner Abrar Ahmed’s 11-wicket show. It was instead Pakistan batters losing wickets on crucial moments in the fourth innings that eventually led to the home side’s series defeat.

“England are the only side who are playing this type of cricket and they deserve credit for it,” Imam, speaking during a press conference here at the National Stadium, said of England’s relentlessly attacking style of play.

 PAKISTAN opener Imam-ul-Haq gestures during a news conference at the National Stadium on Thursday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star
PAKISTAN opener Imam-ul-Haq gestures during a news conference at the National Stadium on Thursday.—Tahir Jamal/White Star

“But it’s not like we have lost the first two matches particularly because how they play. Our losses are down to our own mistakes and we will try not to repeat them.”

Pakistan’s collapse in the Multan Test started with Imam falling to a tempting delivery by part-timer Joe Root minutes ahead of stumps on the fourth day.

Early on the next day, it was all-rounder Faheem Ashraf who gave away his wicket to the off-spinner before middle-order batter Saud Shakeel — who had shown superb grit in his 94-run knock — fell victim to a controversial decision by third umpire Joel Wilson to get dismissed.

What followed was a Pakistan collapse as they eventually lost by just 26 runs.

Imam said Pakistan had clear plans for both matches but failed to execute them.

“When a team loses it does seem like it did not come with a plan, but that is not true,” Imam said. “However, we did fail to execute our plans and we are sad about it and open to criticism on it.

“Both matches were in our hand and we failed to finish them off.”

The third Test in Karachi — starting Saturday — is going to be a dead rubber as far as the series is concerned but Imam said Pakistan would like to go into the upcoming two-match Test series against New Zealand on the back of a win against England.

“This Test match is going to be crucial for us, also with the New Zealand series starting soon,” said the left-hander. “We are still building up as a Test side, there are a few issues with our discipline, but I’m hopeful things will get better in the coming days.”

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2022

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