Inzamam-ul-Haq gets tough as SA await Pakistan
London — Inzamam-ul-Haq was not to be messed with as a player‚ and nothing has changed now that he is Pakistan’s selection boss.
"All the players have to realise their responsibilities and perform their roles in the team otherwise they will go home now and there will be changes in the team‚" he said in Lahore at the weekend.
In short‚ go big or go home.
Inzamam spoke in the wake of Pakistan’s 2-1 Test series defeat by New Zealand in the Emirates‚ where they were dismissed for fewer than 200 twice and reached 400 just once.
And that despite the fact that six of the nine 50s in a series that featured no centuries — but four efforts of at least 80 — were scored by Pakistanis. That cut no ice with Inzamam: "Players are not selected for Pakistan to not cope with pressure. This is their job as professionals." They will get the chance to prove they have taken the big fella seriously in their series in SA‚ which starts in Centurion on December 26.
A little coercive motivation can be a good thing‚ but it is not what a team need hanging over their heads going into a match on one of cricket’s most pace-friendly pitches and against a world-class seam attack.
Pakistan themselves know this only too well‚ having lost 35 of their 40 wickets to SA’s fast bowlers in their two Tests at the ground‚ in January 2007 and February 2013.
The number of overs of spin the Pakistanis faced in those games? Just 44.2 of the total of 317.5. Or less than 14%.
Chances are that batting conditions will ease in the second Test on Newlands’s more balanced surface.
But runs will not come easily in the third match at the Wanderers. Pakistan have won two of their dozen Tests in SA‚ but those games were played on the country’s slowest pitches: at Kingsmead back in March 1998 and at St George’s Park in
The good news‚ for them‚ is that both of those successes were achieved under pressure.
The first followed a Test at the Wanderers that started a day late in the wake of team members Mohammad Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq claiming that they had been violently mugged near the team hotel.
That Pakistan managed to scrape their way to a draw
after all that was impressive‚ perhaps more than their victory — by 29 runs — in Durban a few days later‚ when legspinner Mushtaq Ahmed took match figures of 9/149.
In 2007 they bounced back from defeat in the first Test by seven wickets in Centurion to claiming victory by five wickets in Port Elizabeth.
That match‚ too‚ was drenched in drama: Shoaib Akhtar allegedly used a bat to attack one of his teammates in the dressing room.
Pakistan’s coach at the time‚ Bob Woolmer‚ apparently tried to intervene to keep the peace and was accused of making racist slurs against Shoaib‚ which he denied.
Whatever the truth of it‚ an altercation on the players’ balcony was broadcast live on television for all to see.
For their imminent tour‚ Pakistan have prepacked controversy along with their pads.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq scored 73 runs in six innings against New Zealand‚ fewer than five of his compatriots — not the kind of stat a top-order batter wants next to their name.
That’s a famous name‚ of course‚ and it belongs to Inzamam’s nephew.
"I know he didn’t get runs against New Zealand but we have to see that in the past one year he has got runs and we need to give him a long run‚" Inzamam said.
"If he doesn’t get runs in SA then he can also be dropped by the selectors."
But will he be sent home‚ uncle Inzi?