Five of the best
Since making his entrance with a bang, hitting two centuries and two fifties in his first six innings, Inzamam ul Haq has been Pakistan's middle-order backbone, combining some of the most elegant cricket seen in recent times with the steel necessary to bail his side out. Here, in no particular order, are five of Inzi's best one-day innings.
60 vs New Zealand, World Cup semi-final 1992
Coming into bat with 123 runs required and the tail to follow (due apologies to Akram and Moin), Inzamam chose the occasion to announce his entry. New Zealand, who had been beaten only once in their previous eight matches in the tournament, were faced with a whirlwind. Inzamam's 60 came off only 37 deliveries and included seven fours and a massive straight six. Inzi finally departed - run out, of course - with 36 still needed but his reputation firmly established.
122 vs India, Karachi, 2003-04 The first match of the historic series saw India bludgeoning the Pakistani bowling attack (including Shoaib, Sami and Razzaq) for 349. Pakistan's openers were dismissed within the first half hour; then, enter Inzamam who, pacing his innings superbly, formed valuable partnerships with Mohammed Yousuf (then Yousuf Youhanna) and Younis Khan. His running between the wickets was equally impressive as he allowed Yousuf and Younis to attack before cutting loose himself. In all, he smashed twelve fours and two sixes, scored his 122 of only 102 deliveries and was adamant he would take Pakistan home before succumbing to the left-arm spin of Kartik with a further 72 required off eight overs. In the end, Moin was unable to do a Miandad (6 required off the final ball) but the Karachi crowd went home stunned by a superb innings.
60* vs India, Ahmedabad, 2004-05 In a match reduced to 48 overs, India put up 315, inspired by a Tendulkar 123. For a change, Pakistan's reply saw contributions from the entire top order (Salman Butt, Afridi, Razzaq and Shoaib Malik) but each fell victim to rash stroke-play when patience was required. It was left to Inzamam to keep one end up and the runs flowing and, with three needed off the last over, he shepherded his team to Pakistan's highest successful run-chase. That last over was tense - he blocked the first five deliveries before driving the last one for a four. His response when asked why he left it till the last delivery: "I wasn't thinking anything on the last ball. I was just praying to God to help me."
81* vs England, Rawalpindi, 2005-06 This was a must-win game to ensure Pakistan won both the Test and ODI winter series. Yet things looked gloomy when Pakistan, batting first, lost the first four wickets for only 58. Inzamam, though, was around, and held one end, nudging around for quick singles and twos, while Afridi and Rana Naved hit a few around towards the end. Inzamam's patient and responsible 81* off 113 deliveries included seven fours and a six (he was left stranded as the last three wickets went down for only two runs) and took Pakistan to a mildly respectable 210 that proved to be enough. Just.
116 v Sri Lanka, Kimberley, 1997-98 For a veteran of 378 one-day internationals, Inzamam-ul-Haq has hit precious few centuries. This, his fifth, was one of the best, coming overseas while chasing a huge total and remaining unbeaten. Pakistan were chasing 296 against the Sri Lankans, reigning world champions and still a strong outfit. Inzamam began his innings in the tenth over with Pakistan on 46 for 2. Though he lost partners steadily, he proved impossible to dislodge and moved Pakistan steadily towards their target. He finished unbeaten on 116 off 110 balls, an innings that included only four fours and as many sixes. So perfect was Inzamam's pacing of the chase that Pakistan cantered home with two overs and four wickets to spare.
Faras Ghani is a writer based in Karachi