December 22, 1995, Lahore, Punjab
Left hand bat
Top order batter
Prodigious or privileged? Imam ul Haq answered that question emphatically right at the get-go, stopping conspiracy theorists and cynics who cried nepotism - his uncle is chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq - with a glorious start to his international career. A hundred against Sri Lanka on debut made him the second player from Pakistan to reach three figures in his first match. He followed that up with a splendid outing in Zimbabwe, where he scored three centuries and became the first player in ODI history to score four hundreds in his first nine matches.
A bespectacled, slight young man with a deferential, curious note running through his voice, Imam is a ruthless accumulator at the crease. A left-handed opening batsman descended from arguably Pakistan's greatest batsman of all time, Imam is particularly strong on the drive and off his hips. He looks to have faith in his abilities even in high-pressure moments, though he is admittedly yet to be tested in truly demanding conditions or the highest quality of opposition; he was unwittingly done a favour when he was benched for most of Pakistan's disastrous ODI tour of New Zealand at the start of 2018.
His start to Test cricket hasn't quite been as eye-catching, though an unbeaten 74 in the fourth innings of his debut match prevented Pakistan from falling to an astonishing defeat against the debuting Test nation Ireland. In the two Tests that followed in English conditions, he appeared susceptible to the moving ball - Stuart Broad dismissed him in all three innings, twice by trapping him lbw. He has the technique and level head to be able to succeed in red-ball cricket, and upcoming home tours of Australia and New Zealand provide him the perfect opportunity to make his mark as a long-term opener in both longer formats.
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