Inzamam failed to inspire the team, says Imran

Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Lahore:Criticising Inzamam-ul Haq's decision to bat lower down the order with a chest injury, former Pakistan skipper Imran Khan said the captain should have braved the setback and led from the front in the Leeds Test which saw the side losing the match and the series to England.

The World Cup winning captain was aghast at ''Pakistan's lack of spine'' and in his column for The Nation, Imran said Inzamam just could not inspire his side.

''Skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq should have known that he would not be able to go up the order on the crucial last day and so should have made every effort to spend time in the field on day four to be eligible to bat in his regular position.

''When a captain leads from the front and plays through injuries, it inspires his charges to brave challenges and adversity. I once saw Ian Chappell bat for two hours with a broken hand against the likes of Andy Roberts and Joel Garner. His standing firm despite the extreme pain and discomfort that roused the Aussies to turn the tables against West Indies despite facing much superior odds in the next Test match,'' Imran recalled.

''Unfortunately Inzamam prefers to play down the order which at times has been successful yet it is technically wrong strategy because when the chips are down, the best batsman has to go up the order to avert a crisis. It is far more difficult to bat once there is a crisis,'' he explained.

Imran didn't expect much from the opening pair of Salman Butt and Taufiq Umar but pointed out it was Mohd Yousuf's run out which ruined Pakistan's prospects in the match which England won by 167 runs.

''With the openers' record rather poor in England so far, not much was expected from them. Bred on slow and low bounce Pakistan wickets, they were never equipped to have the technique for English wickets where the ball moves off the track.

''But it was the unfortunate run out of Mohammad Yousuf that effectively put paid to any meaningful Pakistani resistance,'' he lamented.

He, however, found some positives in the ascent of Yousuf and Younis Khan as world-class batsmen along with Inzamam. ''Yousuf is one of the best touch players in international cricket.

With his sound temperament and a desire to score big, he has looked consistently the best stroke player on either side.

Younis has by far the best defensive technique amongst our batsmen, which is why he has could be rated as one of the best one-down batsmen to have padded up for Pakistan. And this also explains why he is so consistent.

Moreover he is fearless and looks completely unruffled when the going gets tough. He has shown that he can play spin and pace with complete confidence. Finally, it is his not getting bogged down and thus missing scoring opportunities that has enabled him to feature in some of Pakistan's greatest fightbacks and victories in recent times,'' Imran elaborated.

He, however, felt let down by the poor form of ''highly talented'' Kamran Akmal both in front and behind the stumps and also leggie Danish Kaneria.

In an oblique reference to coach Bob Woolmer, Imran said the think-tank had blundered in its strategy and preparation for the England tour.

He said the team management didn't have a steady opening pair in mind and Imran felt Yasir Hameed and Salman Butt have the talent and the heart but not the technique to fill in these vital positions. A ''Rather than this a strange policy of chopping and changing or persisting with makeshift openers was adopted. I am not surprised that this brainless strategy has backfired,'' he remarked.

A dejected Imran doesn't see Pakistan doing something extraordinary in the last Test at the Oval and he questioned the logic behind rushing a half-fit Shoaib Akhtar into the side.

''There is a lot of talk about Shoaib Akhtar's comeback, though it is clear that Asif would not be able make it. One thing should be remembered: whatever Shoaib's attributes, no matter how talented he is, he cannot go into a Test match with so little match fitness.

''He will have to bowl at least 30 overs in the warm-up game against the West Indies 'A' before he should even be considered for induction into the eleven,'' he added.

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