Inzy cornered, clueless
Every cricket team has a batting cornerstone, and for Pakistan, it is Inzamam-ul-Haq. Sadly, he has been the weak link of the side in the past six month, making the whole structure rather wobbly.Updated: Feb 25, 2003 02:25 IST
Every cricket team has a batting cornerstone, and for Pakistan, it is Inzamam-ul-Haq. Sadly, he has been the weak link of the side in the past six month, making the whole structure rather wobbly.
Inzamam, just over a week shy of his 33rd birthday, seems to have simply forgotten how to put bat to ball. The big man, who had undergone a crash diet just before the World Cup, now has a lean frame but we could assume that Waqar Younis would rather version, as long as the man could score runs.
Inzamam exploded on the international scene with a belligerent, match-winning inning of 60-plus that snatched away the 1992 World Cup semi- from co-hosts New Zealand. After the knock, then skipper Imran Khan had publicly announced that Inzamam was in the same league as Sachin Tendulkar.
While Inzamam has never really struck the same chord of success as Tendulkar, he is rated as one of the best few batsmen for over 15 years.
Now, Inzamam is struggling. For the past year and a little more, he has been struggling desperately in the limited-overs version of the game, the ball finding the edge of his bat with sickening consistency. With every failure comes another dent in his confidence and self-doubt seems to be creeping in with every passing day.
Just before the World Cup here, Inzamam had expressed his desire to bat at number three, and after his less-than-impressive display in the number four slot in the first two matches of this tournament, he was promoted to his favoured number three position against England. But that venture lasted only one ball as Jimmy Anderson produced a dream outswinger to have him caught at third slip.
Missing was the belligerent giant, who would saunter to the middle, work the gaps in the early part of his innings and then explode without warning. Before that defeat in Cape Town, Waqar had stressed the need for Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana to get contribute if Pakistan were to post a sizeable total. Both fell first ball, and an eventual total of 134 all out meant Waqar's worst fears had come true.
"Both batsmen are too good to keep failing time after time," Waqar had said before the match. After the game, though, the Pakistani skipper was demanded more, that the top-order batsmen do their job properly. Inzamam will be the first to admit that he hasn't quite contributed his bit, and the match against Holland here on Tuesday should offer him an excellent opportunity to get some runs regain confidence.
Waqar has dismissed any talk of experimentation here and stressed that Pakistan would put their best XI out as they make an effort to win three matches out of three to make the Super Six.
That negates Inzamam's chances of getting a break to sort his problems out in the nets for the obvious technical inadequacy with static feet and an uncertain bat.
Inzamam has 287 one-day appearances with 8948 runs at an average of 38.74, with of eight centuries and 64 half-centuries.
His last 36 matches since the beginning of 2002 have, however, produced a meagre 753 runs at just over 26, a highest score of 68. Only four half-centuries in those 36 games suggest a huge drop.
Maybe that bad patch will come to an end on Tuesday.
First Published: Feb 25, 2003 02:25 IST