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I will never go on diet again, vows Inzamam

Published: Tuesday, July 11, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
 
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London:Recalling the horrible experience of being put on diet before the 2003 World Cup, Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul Haq said the 17 kg weight loss that followed only worsened his performance, frustrating him to the point that he thought of giving up cricket.

''I will never do that again. Just before the World Cup I worked harder than I ever did and lost - 17 kilograms!,'' Inzamam told 'The Guardian'.

''Can you believe it? It was too much. I didn't score any runs without those 17 kilograms. And that's when I got dropped from the Test team. It hurt me so much that I said I'm not willing to play again,'' he added.

He said the ridicule he faced for being overweight and lethargic, and jokes on his slow running between the wickets hurt him immensely earlier but not anymore as he has become a calmer person now.

''Those jokes hurt me -- especially in the past. It is not easy when people laugh at you. I don't mind positive criticism, but when it is negative and personal it is quite hard. But I feel more relaxed now,'' the Pakistan skipper told 'The Guardian'.

Inzamam, who once attacked a spectator for calling him an 'aloo' during a match, said he has matured with age and has stopped letting any criticism -- either personal or professional -- affect his peace of mind.

''It is difficult because we have 150 million critics in Pakistan and whenever we play a series there are maybe five TV channels that cover the cricket. And each channel has five big experts telling us where we are going wrong. I try to ignore them,'' he said.

Happy that new coach Bob Woolmer has put no such restriction on his diet and the strictness with the food is limited only to the playing season.

''He takes it well, because he's a very good human being. He understands us and so he does not try to change us in one day. He does make us think about our diet. We now know that during a series we cannot eat any curry because if you eat heavy curries it's not so easy to perform,'' Inzamam revealed.

The Multan player said he always enjoyed playing under pressure especially in front of his home crowd.

''The pressure on me is always there. But I always do quite well when the pressure is big,'' he said.

Enjoying his stint as captain of the side, Inzamam said leading the team gave him immense pleasure as he has faith in the ability of each and every member of the squad.

''I get more confidence and happiness leading this team.'' Inzamam, who has a career spanning 109 Tests at an imposing average of 51.34, admitted that he doesn't spend much time in the nets and likes to keep things slow and simple.

''I only do it for a short time, nice and slow,'' Inzamam said.

Inzamam said religion had played a major role in uniting a team, which was known to have strong differences.

''Like every Muslim we pray five times a day and this helps our spirit. If we have a problem we discuss it when we get together to pray,'' he said about the new unified Pakistani dressing room.

A father of three, Inzamam said his favourite past-time during off days was to become a left arm spinner for his son Ibtisam, who scores a lot of runs against him.

''He loves batting and I have to do a lot of bowling. He is a very good left-hander. I bat right-handed but bowl left-handed to him. So he scores many runs against me,'' he revealed.

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