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Inzamam to call it a day after Lahore

The former Pakistan captain announces his retirement from Test cricket, saying next week's Test against SA will be his last.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Karachi
UPDATED ON OCT 06, 2007 02:21 AM IST

For a man who burst on to the international cricket scene by playing some eye-catching knocks in Pakistan's 1992 World Cup win, it is unfortunate that Inzamam-ul Haq should be associated with the team's dismal performance in this year's event.

One of Pakistan's greatest batsmen announced his retirement from Test cricket on Friday, six months after quitting the captaincy and one-day internationals following his team's shock loss to Ireland and elimination in the first round of the World Cup in the West Indies.

In the aftermath of the tournament, Inzamam became one of the most controversial figures in Pakistan cricket.

He was held responsible for the World Cup debacle and described as a stubborn and autocratic captain by a committee set up by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to investigate the team's failure, charges he has rejected.

With this in mind, Inzamam, 37, can consider himself lucky he has the opportunity to retire in a graceful manner.

Until a few months ago, relations between Inzamam and the PCB had soured to an extent where his desire to continue playing Test cricket was seen as detrimental to the team's rebuilding process.

Since making his debut against the West Indies in 1990, Inzamam has had a habit of remaining in the news, for the right and wrong reasons.

Premier batsman

Soft spoken, with a dry sense of humour, fond of food and sleeping, Inzamam will not only be remembered as one of Pakistan's best batsman and a successful captain but also as someone who introduced a religious culture in the team.

Collective prayers, late-night religious sessions and visits to mosques were normal during Inzamam's tenure as captain and even led to warnings from the PCB to not use the cricket team as a platform to promote religion.

He remained unruffled and some notable victories under his captaincy helped to silence his critics. The big, burly Inzamam combined power and a sublime touch.

Captaincy no burden

His batting skills flourished after he was made the regular captain of a troubled team in November 2003 and it is no surprise that throughout his spell as skipper his averages improved in test and one-day cricket.

If he is the butt of jokes for the numerous times he ran himself or his partners out because of his ambling ways, Inzamam is also the proud holder of a record that shows that out of 25 test hundreds, 17 came in matches won by his country.

He is only the second Pakistani after Hanif Mohammad to have made a triple hundred in tests, when he scored a memorable 329 in searing heat against New Zealand at Lahore in 2002.

Inzamam has a batting average of 50.07 in 119 Tests and his tally of 83 half centuries in his 378 one-day internationals is equal to that of India's Sachin Tendulkar, who tops the all-time list of scorers.

The world might not have seen the last of Inzamam following his retirement after the second test against South Africa in Lahore, as he is signed up to play in the unofficial Indian Cricket League.

‘It was a tough decision’

The 37-year-old revealed his decision at a press conference with Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf at the National Stadium in Karachi.

“I have told the selectors of my availability for the Lahore Test which will be my last. I feel this is the right time as the youngsters have played well,” Inzamam said.

The second Test starts in Lahore on Monday. “It is a tough decision but it is the best for me and my country,” said Inzamam who made himself unavailable for the ongoing first Test here.

Nasim Ashraf said Inzamam had come to him with his own decision. “I am proud that he is setting a new trend in Pakistan cricket which hopefully will become a tradition in our cricket and our players get a chance to retire gracefully and with honour."

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