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Underdogs Pak have the last laugh on India tour

In February, critics said Pak captain Inzamam was merely leading lambs for slaughter. Two months on, he is set to return home with a bunch of fighters.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2005 15:39 IST

When Inzamam-ul-Haq was named captain of a young Pakistani squad in February for the first cricket tour of India in six years, critics said he was merely leading lambs for slaughter.

The team was thin on experience, especially in the bowling department following the withdrawal of paceman Shoaib Akhtar due to a hamstring injury. Their batting was considered unpredictable.

After nearly two months of intense cricket in hot, humid and dusty Indian conditions, Inzamam was set to return home with a bunch of fighters.

Pakistan drew the three-Test series 1-1 and clinched the one-day series 4-2 against India, who had started as firm favourites but ended up acknowledging their opponents' mettle.

Pakistan performed above their potential as they overcame a 1-0 deficit in the Test series and won four successive one-dayers after losing the first two.

"We maintained the belief in our ability even when critics back home gave us no chance. I won't say my team was weak, but the fact that we won it (one-day series) with a very young side made it sweeter," said Inzamam after the final match on Sunday.

The prophets of doom were forced to swallow a bitter pill, for they had simply missed the chemistry of India-Pakistan clashes which often gives opportunities to little-known players to hitch their wagons to the stars.

Unsung wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal set the ball rolling with a maiden century to help Pakistan salvage a draw from a losing position in the opening Test at Mohali.

His hundred breathed new life into the Test series which kept changing its course with each day to keep millions of fans on tenterhooks before ending in Pakistan's win in the third and final match at Bangalore.

All the Tests lasted a full five days and were attended by a sizeable crowd despite stifling security, oppressive weather and poor facilities at the venues.

It was more than just a contest between bat and ball.

There was also room for cricket diplomacy as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Sunday watched the sixth and final one-dayer in New Delhi along with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

First Published: Dec 27, 2005 18:17 IST