Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq is relishing facing Australia pace spearhead Mitchell Starc when the two teams meet in the World Cup in Taunton on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old, a nephew of Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq, said the confidence he had gained from facing England quicks Jofra Archer and Mark Wood would help him tame the Australia attack. “Starc isn’t a threat,” said Imam. “In fact I am excited over the prospect of facing him. Same was said about Archer and Wood but we played them with confidence.”
Imam scored a solid 44 in an 82-run opening stand against England in Nottingham, setting up Pakistan’s second-highest total ever in a World Cup of 348 for eight in a match they won by 14 runs. That came after he could only muster two runs in Pakistan’s seven-wicket defeat against the West Indies in their opening game, when they were bowled for a paltry 105.
“I have played [Kagiso] Rabada and Dale Steyn in more difficult conditions in South Africa,” said Imam, referring to Pakistan’s tour of South Africa earlier this year.
Imam was Pakistan’s most successful batsman on that one-day international series with 271 runs, including a century, in the five matches. “You can’t say a bowler is threatening,” he said. “I try to prepare according to my strengths instead of bowlers’ strengths. I don’t think like that, because you need to beat top teams if you want to play the World Cup final.”
Imam, who hit a century on his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in 2017, scored a brilliant 151 against England in the series between the two countries before the World Cup. He stressed the importance of giving Pakistan a platform in every game, with the help of opening partner Fakhar Zaman, as they prepare to face the defending champions, who will be smarting after a defeat to India.
“If you analyze then you notice that teams have succeeded in the World Cup mostly when the top three players have done well,” he said.