Imam-ul-Haq screams in delight after going to his fifth ODI century for Pakistan against the Proteas on Friday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

CENTURION – Imam-ul-Haq hit a measured century – and delivered a message to his critics – as Pakistan piled up 317/6 in the third one-day international against South Africa on Friday.

As Imam completed the single that took him to his fifth century in his 19th one-day international he pointed to his mouth as his lips moved vigorously.

He was out almost immediately afterwards for 101, made off 116 balls with eight fours.

Asked about his gesture in an interview with SuperSport after his innings, he laughed and said: “Everybody knows I am the nephew of the chief selector (Inzamam-ul-Haq), and that was a message to all the Pakistan media and all the Pakistan people who criticise me.”

The left-handed Imam shared partnerships of 132 for the second wicket, with Babar Azam (69) and 84 for the third wicket with Mohammad Hafeez (52).

Imad Wasim finished the innings with a flourish with an unbeaten 43 off 23 balls, putting on 52 off 31 balls with Shoaib Malik (31) for the fifth wicket.

With the five-match series tied at 1-1, South Africa had a poor day in the field, dropping five catches, including lives to all five of the Pakistan top scorers.

There were 12 wides in the innings as the Proteas needed more than 20 minutes past the allotted time to bowl their 50 overs.

Andile Phehlukwayo and Tabraiz Shamsi, the two most successful bowlers when South Africa’s won the second match in Durban on Tuesday, conceded a combined 146 runs in 19 overs for the wicket of Imam, caught in the deep off Shamsi.