A gifted young left-handed opener who threatened at one stage to solve Pakistan's perennial opening conundrum, Imran Farhat had a brief spell in the Pakistan side after success with the national under-19 and A sides. Farhat also evokes Saeed Anwar but only fleetingly; he bludgeons rather than times his runs. He was rather too cavalier in his early appearances in the Test arena, and was promptly discarded after the tour to New Zealand in 2000-01. However, he tightened his game and achieved much more success in the 2003-04 season. Tempering his impressive array of shots with better defensive technique, Farhat scored a deluge of runs in the home series against South Africa and New Zealand, being involved in a record four successive hundred partnerships with Yasir Hameed in the one-day internationals against New Zealand. He also notched up his first century in both Tests and ODIs during this season, and then went on to score a vital 101 in Pakistan's victory against India in the Lahore Test. But since the India series, he has fallen away. A mediocre series at home to Sri Lanka and away to Australia saw him falter, especially with the emergence of the other left-handed opener, Salman Butt. When Pakistan included only one specialist opener in the squad for the series against England in 2005 - Butt - seemingly it confirmed that Farhat, temporarily, was out of national reckoning. But as an opener in Pakistan, you are never out of national reckoning and sure enough Farhat was back for the final Test against India, where he scored a fifty. That performance saw him on the plane to Sri Lanka and an average series. But with openers becoming as rare as dinosuars in Pakistan, he was retained for the summer tour to England, where he again produced some mixed results. Despite failures in the first two Tests, a broken finger and a spate of dropped catches, he came back to score a cavalier 91 in the final, fateful Oval Test. Runs against West Indies at home were followed by a barren patch in South Africa. A first away hundred followed by a patient half-century in the Napier Test of 2009 has set him up for a long sojourn in the Test side. His ODI career has however hit roadblocks since he was dropped after an indifferent run of scores in 2006.
Osman SamiuddinDecember 2009