Imam-ul-Haq has opened up about the ‘parchi’ chants that have prevented his parents from watching him play at a venue.

While speaking on Daniyal Sheikh’s podcast, Imam opened up on why his parents do not visit the stadium to watch him play. Imam’s ODI debut was marred by accusations of nepotism, for his uncle, Pakistan legend Inzamam-ul-Haq, led the selection panel.

Imam quickly silenced his critics by scoring exactly 100 on maiden appearance, against Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi. It took him nine ODIs to reach four hundreds. After 59 matches, his career stands at 2,719 runs at 51.30 with nine hundreds.

In ODI history, that average is the second-best among openers (and fifth-best overall) with a 50-innings cut-off. He is fourth on the ICC ODI batting rankings. With Fakhar Zaman, he has added 2,318 runs in 53 innings at 45.45 – the best for any opening partnership for Pakistan.

The relatively brief Test career of 22 matches includes 157 and 111 not out in the same Test match against Australia and 121 against England – all of them in Rawalpindi last year – and 96 and 83 against New Zealand in Karachi this January.

In short, there is ample evidence to demonstrate that Imam’s selection was based on merit.

Yet, a section of fans have not stopped taunting him with calls of parchi – a word that literally translates to a chit of paper but is used to hint at nepotism.

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Imam opened up on how much the phrase affected him over the years, especially during the first three years of his career, from 2017 to 2020: “When I used to go out to dinner with my family, they would come up and call me parchi in front of my parents. I would be sitting at Nando’s with my family, and there would be young students quipping ‘look, the parchi is sitting there’. That was when I would feel the worst.

“My parents want to watch me play, but they have not seen me play at a venue even once. Even I don’t want them to. I don’t want my mother hear someone utter parchi when I am fielding on the boundary. All this is normal to me. Whenever I am dismissed cheaply, they will not look at what I have achieved in my past but simply utter parchi. I do not want my family to be exposed to that.

“The first time my sister watched me play was in 2022, when both West Indies (ODIs) and England (a Test match) played at Multan. By then I was a senior member of the side. The fact that my family could not attend the matches was a mental torture for me.”