Inzamam bludgeons the Black Caps into submission
LAHORE - It was the day of the 'big fella', and braving heat despite struggling with his fitness, cramps in his legs making matters worse, he made the New Zealand bowlers suffer nevertheless. The modest Black Caps attack felt the full weight of his bat, and he bludgeoned them into submission without an ounce of mercy in his huge frame. When he was last out, Pakistan had posted a massive 653, their highest against New Zealand, Inzamam's contribution being 329 in a vigil lasting nearly 10 hours.
If the Kiwis expected any respite at finally seeing the back of Inzamam, a rampant Shoaib Akhtar most rudely dashed their hopes. At close, the Black Caps were rather perilously placed. Akhtar's thunderbolts combined with spin duo Saqlain Mushtaq and Danish Kaneria's contribution of a wicket apiece, reduced them to 58 for six at stumps.
Bowling with pace and venom, on the same placid turf where the Kiwi attack was torn asunder, Akhtar's missiles homed in with unerring accuracy. And the stumps of the first four batsmen went flying with only 21 runs on the board. Matthew Horne's leg stump was sent cartwheeling by a fiery toe-crusher and undone by pace, Mark Richardson and Stephen Fleming could hear only the rattle of the uprooted middle stump, while Chris Harris had the mortification to see his off-stump laid back.
Within no time, Akhtar, whose figures at that point read six overs, three maidens, five runs, four wickets, had destroyed the Kiwi aspirations of making a match of it.
Kaneria and Saqlain produced a wicket apiece with their sharp turners. The former snapped up Craig McMillan when Afridi brought off a good catch at silly-point and the latter induced a big outside edge from Lou Vincent with Rashid Latif pouching the opportunity.
From here on, the Kiwis would really need something special to lift themselves and avoid a big defeat. But the Pakistanis, having scented the kill, are now literally going for the jugular. It would be really surprising if the match lasts the full five days.
Inzamam's was only the 16th triple hundred in all, the 10th highest in Tests and only the second by a Pakistani, 44 years after Hanif Mohammad's 337 at Barbados in 1957-58.
When he got out attempting his fourth six in five balls off leggie Brooke Walker, he was just nine runs shy of a new highest individual innings for Pakistan and 47 from the world record.
Fatigue and exhaustion, not to mention the cruel cramps in the legs, and the fact he was batting with the No 11 Danish Kaneria, made him hit out. But by then the 32-year-old had made 329, off 436 deliveries in 579 minutes with 38 fours and nine sixes.
Unbeaten at 159 on day one, Inzamam didn't go after the bowling straightaway. He made only four out of 29 in the first hour as the Black Caps bowled with a whole lot more discipline than the previous day. But from then on, it was one milestone after another for Inzi. Three boundaries quickly took him past two landmarks: Saleem Malik's (5768) career aggregate to make him Pakistan's second highest run-getter after Javed Miandad (8832), and also his previous best in Pakistan, 177 against the West Indies in 1997-98.
Then he went past 200, his previous best. Tuffey trapped an unsettled Razzaq (25, with six fours) in front of the wicket, and Harris snapped up Rashid in an excellent return catch. With six gone at 399, Inzamam (211) went to lunch with Saqlain (13 not out) having posted an unbeaten 55 runs for the seventh wicket. Though Fleming did not allow him a runner post-lunch, Inzamam carried on from where had left off, going for quick runs. McMillan brought one in to knock back Saqlain's off-stump at 510, but by then the seventh wicket stand had added 111 runs.
Inzamam was now running out of partners, but he stroked ahead of Javed Miandad's 280. In the meanwhile, Waqar had been caught by McMillan off his own bowling. Shoaib Akhtar struck McMillan for three fours as he helplessly looked on, and Inzamam hit Vettori for two sixes at long-on and long-off. By now struggling with a pronounced limp, Inzamam still continued gamely to go to tea at 287.
He came out and blitzed past 300 when Shoaib Akhtar, having already hit Walker for a six, jumped down the crease for a repeat, only to be stumped. With last wicket in Inzamam despite his serious discomfort, had no option but to hit out. He smote three glorious sixes, and the fourth seemed to be going the same way when Tuffey got him at deep mid-wicket to end a glorious knock.