Imam-ul-Haq eyes Test debut in historic Ireland clash


Dublin:-Opener Imam-ul-Haq is all set to make his Test debut for Pakistan in the historic red-ball fixture against Ireland in Malahide, Dublin starting Friday, May 11.

Ireland will become the first team to debut in the longest format of the game since Bangladesh in 2000, after being awarded full member status last June along with Afghanistan.

For the 22-year old Imam, it is an honour to be receiving his Test cap on such a significant occasion.

“This is a proud moment for me, to be starting my Test career in Dublin. It is a dream come true for me,” he said on Wednesday.

Imam, who is also the nephew of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, said he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous. “But you can’t perform if you don’t handle pressure well, whether it’s your first match or the last.”

The opener, who scored a century in his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in October 2017, said he would also like to make his debut Test memorable with his performance.

Acknowledging Pakistan’s less than stellar rankings in Tests, Imam said the young squad is prepared to handle responsibilities after the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. “[We are] a young and enthusiastic group and along with good performances in ODIs and T20s, we also want to prove ourselves in Tests.”

Imam said he still clearly remembers Pakistan’s World Cup 2007 match against Ireland, in which the Green Shirts succumbed to a shock defeat. “It was sad but when Bangladesh beat India we felt our grief lessen.”

“But I’m sure it was an unforgettable day for Ireland and my best wishes are with the Irish fans.”

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed earlier today backed Ireland to take their experience from limited-overs matches and thrive in the Test format.

“It is a privilege to be a part of this historic Test match and all of us are really looking forward to it,” the 30-year-old said.

“Ireland players feature prominently in the ICC ODI and T20I player rankings, and I am confident that in due course they will also make their mark in the Test rankings.”

Pakistan, currently ranked seventh in Tests, will gain one point with a win against Ireland and reach 87 points, while a draw will see them slip to 84 and a loss to 81 points. The table is led by India at 125 points with South Africa placed second at 112. Australia (106) and New Zealand (102) are placed third and fourth.

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