For the Pakistan cricket team and
lion-hearted skipper Inzamam, it was the finest hour at Gaddafi Stadium when
they tamed the mighty England - the recent winner of Ashes back home - to a
convincing win by an innings and 100 runs and full post-tea session to spare on
the pulsating final day of the third and final Test.
It was also a sweet revenge over
England, who in year 2000 had licked us in home series with an improbable but
dramatic win to clinch the series. The Poms as the England are widely known the
world over especially among the traditional rivals in Australia, had been riding
high after their recent run of success against redoubtable Aussies. For Aussies
the recent Ashes was an end of a long era as the undisputed world champions.
They had over the two decades swept every opposition away which also included
humbling of Pakistan in a home series played quite unusually and unnecessarily
at the offshore venue of Sharjah. But like all good things it ended as they
finally met their Waterloo against Poms who had been in cricket wilderness for
long time. For the mother country of game of cricket their recent resurgence and
rise in ICC cricket ranking only behind the champs - Australia - have been like
a heady tonic. After vanquishing Aussies they had clearly set their goals at the
top slot. It was, therefore, no wonder that England had taken their current tour
of Pakistan and coming visit to India on all seriousness. This became quite
evident when England announced their squad by picking up the strongest possible
team for Pakistan including all their star performers of the recent Ashes
series. This is something England had never done before on a tour of Pakistan
and it showed they meant business to consolidate their newfound form and
For Pakistan after riding high with
their famous world cup victory at Melbourne in 1992 the recent years had been a
downhill ride. Even while possessing a reasonably strong combination their
lowest ebb came at the last World Cup where they faded out of the preliminary
rounds. After retirement of some aging stars - willingly or otherwise - the new
combination has taken time in maturing. Inzamam too has taken time to find his
bearing and it seems the new combination under an ambitious and innovative
coach, Bob Woolmer, has finally struck the right mode to success.
The victory at Lahore was truly
historic. As I reflected back on the recent cricket history my mind went back to
a balmy day in 1978, when Pakistan had routed India to clinch the series 2-0
against their traditional rivals. The routing of England with all their high
hopes and pretensions at Gaddafi, to me appears to be the beginning of another
epoch-making era for home team.
Team Pakistan under Inzamam looks a
close-knit team as it had been under Imran Khan. This is not a small
achievement. On top of it, skipper, deservingly made "Man of the
Series" has led from front and proved to be better tactician than his rival
captain. Each member has played his part superbly to show what a team effort and
high motivation can achieve.
The inevitable return of the prodigal,
Shoaib Akhtar and his living upto to his true potential has been the key factor.
Also, his new role as a totally committed and highly disciplined player shows
him in a different light than he was being described earlier. Mohammad Yousaf,
Danish Kaneria, Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Naved Rana, all played their part in
making the Test series, memorable in every way. I was also reminded of the firm
belief which Air Marshal Nur Khan, a former cricket and hockey supremo and great
sports visionary had held that in order to get on top in sports you have to be
doubly good, always allowing margins for umpiring blunders - intentional or
otherwise. How well it proved to be. Pakistan in their victory march had shown
even some most visibly blunderous umpiring decisions could not change the
destiny if there is dogged determination and will to succeed. Pakistan won the
series by their sheer tenacity, better temperament, better leadership and above
all superior allround display.
So, good luck Inzamam and Pakistan
Team, keep it up. This is just the beginning of a long and challenging journey
for you. Our prayers and best wishes are with you.
Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar wants ICC to
allow two bouncers in one-day matches.
"The decision makers should allow
two bouncers in the one-dayers also as are bowled in the Test matches. On flat
wickets, the bowlers should be given some freeness to bowl," he said.
Shoaib took five wickets in the second match to make path for Pakistan's win.
"At a time when there are fielding
and bowling restrictions, you can't bowl if one flies away then you can't try it
again (or) you end up getting a warning," he said.
He also praised England team's efforts.
"You can't do well everytime. Ups and downs are part of the game," he
He also praised the captaincy of
Inzamam-ul-Haq and put him along the greats of the game like Wasim Akram and
He also termed the maintenance of the
image as the main factor of the team's hard work and consistency.
"The way we have played in the
recent past has turned the players to maintain their image as a fighting
team," he said. "I think the consistency that has come into our
performances is also due to the way Inzamam has developed into a very good
captain," he said.
"Every captain learns with time. I
would now rate Inzamam in the top three captains of Pakistan cricket after Imran
Khan and Wasim Akram. He has helped keep the team together. He is very calm and
composed and is good at encouraging the players and getting their best
performances. After the first match loss he lifted the team really well,"
Shoaib also played down the toss
factor. "Winning or losing the toss does not matter when the team is
playing as a unit." He further said that he has been left bowling slower
delivery but now he has again started working on it.