India v Pakistan, 3rd Test, Bangalore, 1st day March 25, 2005

The back-foot master

On the Ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

Inzamam-ul-Haq's susceptibility against Anil Kumble has been brought up time and again during this series, but on the first day at Bangalore, there was no doubt about who won the contest. Of the 62 balls Kumble bowled to him, Inzamam scored 52 - that's a scoring rate of almosr 84 runs per 100 balls; against the rest of the bowlers, the figure was only 66. Inzamam's in-control factor against Kumble was 80% too - clearly, Inzamam had had enough of being called Kumble's bunny.

The most impressive aspect of Inzamam's innings was his decisive footwork. His easy elegance makes it seem he has plenty of time for his strokes, and on a slow pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, that effect was further accentuated. John Wright and the Indian think-tank would also do well to study the number of times the bowlers allowed Inzamam to go on the back foot - off the 93 deliveries when he did that, he scored at more than a run a ball. When he played forward, his scoring rate was halved.

Inzamam got off the mark with a drive through the covers, and he continued to pepper that region throughout his innings, scoring more than 25% of his runs there. The slowness of the pitch can also be gauged from the fact that only six runs came through point - most of the cuts which would have, on a faster track, gone towards point went much straighter as the ball came on to the bat slowly.