Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq wants side to ‘dominate’ England in birth city of Multan

Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq is looking for his side to “dominate” England as he prepares to play his first Test in his birth city of Multan.

England secured a famous fifth-day win in the series opener at Rawalpindi – just their third Test victory in Pakistan – in a game in which they smoked 921 runs in just 136.5 overs across their two innings, including 506 from 75 overs on the opening day.

Imam, who hit a century in Pakistan’s first knock, believes the hosts could have been more aggressive in their second innings, in which they were dismissed for 268 chasing 343 as England ran out 74-run winners on the flattest of pitches.

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Full highlights from day five of the first Tests in Rawalpindi as England secured a famous 74-run victory

Pakistan must now triumph in Multan this week to keep their hopes of a series victory alive.

Imam told Sky Sports Cricket: “There were chances [in Rawalpindi] which we didn’t collect. We didn’t bat well in the last session. I feel we could have won that Test match but hats off to the England boys. Ben Stokes’ captaincy was brilliant.

“Chasing 657 you are always behind so we have to survive and dominate as well. We didn’t play the second innings that well. There were times we could have attacked and won the Test match.

Imam-ul-Haq (Associated Press)
Imam-ul-Haq is looking forward to a ‘home’ appearance in the second Test

“Pakistan are famous for comebacks and we are hopeful we will come back stronger.

“The way England are playing their Test matches is exciting. We are excited but we will control what is in our control. We have to be mentally strong and have new plans and hopefully it will be our day.”

We were prepared for that – but not 500 on the first day. They played some brilliant, high-risk shots. Reverse sweeps can go anywhere but at that time they were going to the boundary.

Imam-ul-Haq on England’s attacking cricket

Imam’s 18th Test for Pakistan will be his first in Multan. The 26-year-old played three one-day internationals at the venue against West Indies in June, hitting half-centuries in each game, but says his first Test appearance there “is a feeling I cannot describe in words”.

He added: “I wanted to score a hundred [in the ODIs] but got out because of that excitement. I was very nervous.

“It is going to be very exciting for me in the Test match. A big team like England is playing against us so it will be very special.

“In early childhood I saw my uncle [Inazmam-ul-Haq] playing here. He won us a Test against Bangladesh so there are lots of memories.”

Friday 9th December 4:30am

Imam also has fond recollections of Pakistan’s last Test win over England on home soil, in Lahore in 2005, which he attended after hotfooting it from his nearby school.

“I had to skip school [to see the game] but my mum didn’t allow me,” added the batter, who has scored each of his three Test tons to date in Rawalpindi.

“My school was very near to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. My brother came to me – I remember the words – and he said, ‘Pakistan is winning so we have to hurry’.

“He said Shoaib Akhtar was bowling some very good reverse swing and yorkers. I remember he bowled some good slower deliveries.”

Watch day one of the second Test between Pakistan and England, in Multan, live on Sky Sports Cricket from Friday. Build-up gets under way at 4.30am ahead of a 5am start.

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