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Imam-ul-Haq seizes second Australia chance

Imam-ul-Haq was never going to let a second opportunity for a maiden Test century against Australia slip.

Pakistan’s opener on Australia’s last trip to Asia, Imam-ul-Haq hit 76 on the opening morning of the 2018 tour to set the tone for his team in the UAE.

A maiden Test century had looked well in sight then, before one from Nathan Lyon gripped and got his top edge for a catch.

A broken finger in the field four days later ended his series, leaving him sidelined for the second Test as Pakistan clinched the series.

Until Friday, that 76 remained his highest Test score and threatened to be a peak he’d struggle to get a shot at again.

Left out of Pakistan’s team since scores of zero and two against Australia three years ago in Adelaide, the 26-year-old was good enough to seize his chance in Rawalpindi on Friday.

His chance came after incumbent opener Abid Ali suffered chest pains in a first-class match last December. leaving him needing heart surgery.

It opened the door for Imam-ul-Haq, who reclaimed the opening spot ahead of Shan Masood after a century and double-century in his past five first-class innnings late last year.

On return, heshowed the patience of a man who had been waiting more than 1000 days for his next chance.

He scored seven runs from his first 40 balls in the morning session, making a deliberate choice to get through the new ball.

And on a pitch that offered little for the bowlers, he then started to give Pakistan the upper hand.

The left-hander hit two sixes back over Nathan Lyon’s head in his 200-ball hundred, while pulling Pat Cummins with great control to bring up his 50.

There was another brilliantly controlled cut shot when Cameron Green offered him some width after lunch, before cover-driving Mitchell Starc superbly for another boundary.

Another cover drive off Starc brought up his first Test hundred in his 12th Test, having taken chance on one of Pakistan cricket’s biggest days and he kissed the turf in delight.

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