Pakistan batsman Imam-ul-Haq has requested the media and fans to give young Azam Khan a fair chance to prove himself and not criticise him because of his cricketing background.
Imam-ul-Haq had to face severe backlash when he made his debut for Pakistan in 2017, as his uncle and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was the chairman of selectors.
In an interview on the YouTube channel Cricast, Imam-ul-Haq made a passionate plea to not pass a judgement on Azam because he is former captain Moin Khan’s son. Asked what advice he would give Azam to deal with critics since he has faced it all, Imam-ul-Haq, instead, said:
“A lot of people have seen Azam Khan play. I request everyone to not troll him (over nepotism). Please support him; he is very talented. The way he has performed in the PSL, he can become a very good T20 product if we support him. We place players on a pedestal after a few good performances but pull them down equally soon. Even if Azam Khan fails in a few games for Pakistan, please show patience. This is not just for Azam Khan but every new player. When players fail, that is when they need greater support.”
The 25-year-old added that Azam would hopefully face lesser criticism, his father is not the current selector or coach. Imam-ul-Haq said in this regard:
“When Azam Khan made his debut in PSL, I had already spoken to him. Thankfully, in his case, Moin uncle (Moin Khan) is not the chief selector or coach of the Pakistan team. So he may get some relief on that front. In my case, he (Inzamam-ul-Haq) was the chief selector when I made my debut, so that was a little difficult to digest for the media and the country.”
‘Best friend’ Babar Azam helped in dealing with criticism: Imam-ul-Haq
On how he tackled all the negativity around his selection in the Pakistan team, Imam-ul-Haq said that having Babar Azam, who is also a close friend, helped him a lot. The left-handed batsman elaborated in this regard:
“My friend circle has helped me a lot. Babar Azam and I share a very close bond. So he spoke to me a lot. Plus, there is Shoaib Malik; whenever I have played with him, he has guided me a lot. So for me, what matters is what I think about myself and nothing else. It definitely helps that your best friend is the Pakistan team’s main player. Babar knows that I am mentally strong, and I have become so with experience. I don’t use social media on tours, but I respect everyone’s opinion.”
Imam-ul-Haq has played 11 Tests, 43 ODIs and two T20Is so far. He plays for Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL.