ICL: Indian Cricket League

Troubled Inzamam under pressure to emulate Imran Khan


inziFrom a ball-tampering row with an umpire to a doping scandal surrounding two fast bowlers, Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq has reeled from one crisis to another.

Now Inzamam has had to leave four of his star players behind through injury as he takes his team to the Caribbean hoping to win the World Cup.

Inzamam has the task of emulating Imran Khan as the only Pakistan captain to lift the World Cup. Imran won the title at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1992.

Without fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif, all-rounder Abdul Razzaq and unfit paceman Shabbir Ahmed, Inzamam has little firepower to conquer the mighty batting line ups in world cricket.

“It will be tough without them,” Inzamam said. “Our chances have been considerably decreased, but that doesn’t mean we should drop our shoulders,” he explained.

But it’s just another headache for Inzamam, who will lead his team in the tournament’s opening game against the West Indies on March 13.

“Inzi” was at the centre of the ball-tampering scandal when Pakistan played England at The Oval last August. He refused to let his players come out for the final session on the fourth day of the fourth Test after umpire Darrell Hair had accused his team of illegally altering the ball.

Although cleared of ball-tampering, he was banned for four one-dayers in the ICC Champions Trophy on a disrepute charge.

Then came the doping scandal concerning pacemen Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif. They tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone and were banned for two years and one year respectively by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) - only for the decision to be overturned on appeal.

Both players were initially included in a provisional World Cup squad, but then ruled out through injuries. To make it worse for Inzamam, Razzaq has his knee in plaster and Shabbir has an ankle problem.

“Its a big blow for us,” Inzamam said.

The World Cup will be an ultimate test of Inzamam’s captaincy since he took over from Rashid Latif three years ago.

Inzamam, who has played in 375 One-day Internationals (ODIs) and scored 11,665 runs, might have to change his lethargic attitude when he leads an inexperienced team in the World Cup.

“All eyes will be focused on Inzamam now,” former captain and coach Javed Miandad said. “He has to show lot of character and lead from the front if Pakistan have any chance of going all the way,” he added.

Imran has always rated Inzamam as best against pace, but on some pitches in the West Indies that are expected to slower, the Pakistan captain has to be equally good against the spinners.

There’s a lot of debate about where Inzamam should bat with Pakistan struggling to cope with its long time problem of finding a suitable opening pair. But Inzamam has said that he will be batting at No 4 in the World Cup.

After the game against the West Indies, however, Pakistan face the two weak teams in the group, Ireland and Zimbabwe.

Assuming his team reaches the Super 8s, Inzamam is likely to have tougher opponents waiting for him in Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England and arch-rival India.

Source:The News

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