The joy which came with Pakistan’s win against New Zealand in the second ODI was overshadowed by what looked like a terrible injury to opener Imam-ul-Haq.
Lockie Ferguson’s bouncer caught the left-hander on the grille of his helmet and he was forced to the hospital immediately.
Pakistan’s team management first said that the 22-year-old would undergo CT scans and his condition would be monitored for 48 hours. Fortunately, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) later released a statement on the injury providing good news.
It read: “Imam-ul-Haq all scans clear. He joined the team and will remain under observation of Team Physio.”
Imam ul Haq injury update.— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) November 9, 2018
Imam ul Haq all scans clear. He joined the team and will remain under observation of Team Physio. pic.twitter.com/wrYn9FUfWG
Meanwhile, Pakistan ended a 12-match losing streak in one-day internationals against the Black Caps. The final ODI match of the series will be played in Dubai on Sunday.
Trent Boult’s hat-trick stopped Pakistan’s momentum dead in its tracks on Wednesday as Sarfraz Ahmed’s men failed to convert their sparkling T20 form into ODI success in the first game of the series.
However, they can take a second bite of the cherry in Abu Dhabi, needing to win to level up the three-match battle against New Zealand.
Can they do it? Follow every ball with our live updates below:
The series win was Pakistan’s 11th on the bounce and the second 3-0 clean sweep of an opponent in succession following the recent triumph over Australia.
When asked what aspect set No1 Pakistan apart from the rest of the teams in the format, Sarfraz’s reply was prompt.
“Our fielding is so much better than other teams. If you see the number of important catches and run-outs we have affected, no other team comes close. I think our fielding has been one of the most important factors in our success,” the Pakistan skipper stated after his side’s 47-run in the final T20.
Another important aspect of Pakistan’s excellent T20 form that was highlighted by Sarfraz was the long rope extended to new players coming into the side.
“If you see the players who have featured under my captaincy, they are mostly the same faces. Even the new players who have come, we have given them an extended run. If you see Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf, we have carried everyone with us. It is not like they were dropped after one poor series. I think that is why we have been so successful,” the wicketkeeper batsman explained.
With the T20 series now done and dusted, Pakistan will now turn their attention to the ODI series against the same opponents. Despite their unprecedented success in the T20 format, the men in green have been found wanting in the ODIs. They crashed out unceremoniously in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup and were blanked 5-0 by the Blackcaps in the series held in New Zealand at the start of the year.
For Sarfraz, it is now about translating Pakistan’s T20 success in the 50-over format.
“If you look at New Zealand, they have a very experienced ODI squad and have a great bowling attack. So, we will have to be at our very best against them. Our ODI form has not been great of late. If you look at our opening slots, we have lost quick wickets there. That in turn, has put a lot of pressure on the rest of the batting department,” he stated.
“This has been our shortcoming in the ODI format. So, we want to correct this in the upcoming series even though we don’t have so much time to prepare. Hopefully we can do it and win the series,” Sarfraz continued.
The 2019 World Cup in England is now just a few months away but the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have refrained from confirming Sarfraz’s captaincy for the global showpiece.
The 31-year-old, however, remains unperturbed by the uncertainty surrounding his captaincy.
“What answer can I give to this question since it is not my place? All I can do is keep playing and perform. Who is the captain remains the prerogative of the PCB. I cannot make any decisions on that,” he said.
As the ODI series against New Zealand beckons, the Pakistan skipper is buoyed by the fact that Pakistan’s bench strength is looking stronger than ever.
“Our bench strength is increasing rapidly. If you see, we have shuffled our fast bowlers a lot. Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali played the first few matches and now Usman Shinwari and Waqas Maqsood have played. This is a very encouraging fact for Pakistan that we are increasing our bench strength. We now have players who can play for Pakistan in the future in all formats,” said Sarfraz.
The first of three scheduled ODIs between the two sides gets underway on November 7 at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.