'I remember crying in the shower for hours' - Imam-ul-Haq on his bitter experience of facing nepotism accusations

Imam, the nephew of former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, was included in the national side when the former Pakistan skipper was working as the chief selector.

Imam ul Haq
Imam ul Haq. (Photo Source: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

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24-year-old Imam-ul-Haq, after breaking into the Pakistan side in 2017, had a glorious start to his international career. After smashing a hundred against Sri Lanka on debut, Imam became the second player from Pakistan to reach the three-figure mark in his first match.

The left-hander followed that up with a splendid outing in Zimbabwe, where he scored three centuries and etched his name into record books by becoming the first player in ODI history to score four hundreds in his first nine matches. Until now, the top-order batsman has donned the Pakistan jersey in 11 Tests, 37 ODIs and 2 T20Is, scoring over 2000 runs across the three formats.

Despite boasting an average of 53.84 in ODIs, Imam has often been accused of nepotism, leading to many trolls being hurled at him. Imam, the nephew of former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, was included in the national side when the former Pakistan skipper was working as the chief selector.

I would have my meals all alone: Imam-ul-Haq

Imam, while talking to Deep Dasgupta on ESPNCricinfo, opened up on facing nepotism since paving his way into the national side. He also made a startling revelation that he cried for hours in the shower, even before he had played for Pakistan because he very low on confidence.

“When all of this started happening, I would have my meals all alone. It was my first tour and you know how it can get on the first tour. And whenever I would open my phone, there were people tagging me on social media posts or sending me stuff. I was very disheartened and couldn’t understand anything,” said Imam.

“I remember crying in the shower for hours that I haven’t even played yet [he played the third ODI of the series in Abu Dhabi]. It’s very easy for young players to get surrounded by self-doubt.  The only thing running constantly in my mind was that I haven’t even played [for the national team] yet, what if I play and don’t perform well?

Then my career will be over. I wouldn’t step a foot out of my room, fearing people might trouble me outside because there is a large Pakistan community in Dubai,” he further said while explaining his struggles before his national breakthrough.

“So I didn’t play the first two matches of the series, Ahmed Shehzad played in them but he couldn’t perform [well]. In the team meeting after the second match, Mickey Arthur announced a 14-strong team for the next match, and I was included in that. And he said that you will be informed if you will be playing the night before [the match],” he added.

Imam, in his first international match, was able to silence his doubters with a century. He even revealed how the then coach Mickey Arthur informed the youngster about his inclusion in the playing squad.

“We were living in Dubai, and from there we had to travel to Abu Dhabi on the match-day, which is a two-hour drive. So we had to leave around 11am-12pm for the match and I got his [Arthur’s] message at around 9.30 am, which I still remember, ‘Immy, it’s your time, be ready and good luck,'” recalled Imam.