Pakistan had several star performers during their recently concluded successful series against England. But one man stood above the rest and fittingly, it was the Pakistan skipper himself, the man mountain, Inzamam-ul-Haq. Shoaib was sensational, Salman Butt shone and Yousuf came through big time but for consistency and inspiration, look no further than big Inzi.
Inzamam made 431 runs at 107.75 with two centuries and three fifties. Top score of 109 and lowest score of 53. He was dismissed just twice in the final two Tests, being run out on both occasions. Not bad from a man who, despite a poor showing in the recent Super Test, despite jokes about his size, lack of speed and appalling running between wickets, has nothing to prove. In 105 Tests, Inzamam has scored just over 8000 runs at 51.61 with a top score of 329. Since taking over the captaincy, he has averaged just under 63.
It’s hard to believe that Pakistan has dispensed with England so empathically. Surely this is not the same team that was hammered in Australia less than twelve months ago. But it is more or less is. The team that met Australia in the first Test in Perth included such useful players as: Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf Youhana, Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Shoaib Akhtar and Danish Kaneria. Abdul Razzaq has fallen away and Yousuf Youhana has changed his name but that aside, all of those afore mentioned played significant parts in defeating England. What’s the difference? The venue.
One also wonders whether England may have struggled to focus after the euphoria of regaining the Ashes. England would have been very keen to win the series – to really push for the unofficial tag as the best team in the world, they need to match Australia and win on the sub continent. While it is true that they suffered at the hands of injury and personal dramas, one could not help wondering if there was a touch of what is known in Rugby League circles as “end of season syndrome” (ESS). This is more than just “let down”. In years gone by, ESS occurred when the premiership winning team from the ARL competition travelled to Britain to play their British counter part. This took place shortly after the conclusion of the Australian season and the result was almost always victory to the less fancied British club. This was usually attributed to most of the Australian’s still having a blood alcohol level that would see them imprisoned, should they sit behind the wheel of a car.
However it happened, Pakistan rockets up the world Test rankings from 7th to 4th while England sheds some points. If India can account for Sri Lanka (which seems unlikely given the inclement weather), India will go to number two. As if any of that actually matters.