May 31, 2001

Inzamam inspires a day of great entertainment

Dave Edmundson

A day of fluctuating fortunes and majestic cricket saw one player hold centre stage for much of a wind-blown but thankfully relatively dry day. Inzamam-ul-Haq counter-attacked against England's renowned pace attack of Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick with princely power.

The Pakistan vice-captain is often the butt of less than complimentary comments about his size, poor running and a diffident demeanour. But when handed a perfect batting pitch, with the ball coming on, Inzamam ranks among the very best.

After Waqar Younis had won the toss, Gough and Caddick ruthlessly exposed Pakistan's inexperience at the top of their order. Abdur Razzaq was thrust in to open with Saeed Anwar. Saeed always looked comfortable, driving and pulling with panache, but Razzaq lasted just three balls, dropped first up by Michael Atherton at slip and perishing two balls later playing on to Caddick.

Next the 19-year-old Faisal Iqbal found Gough's bouncer too much for him and he fended tamely to Michael Vaughan at short leg. This followed a brief rain interruption, with the blustery showers also causing a delayed start by half an hour.

But Inzamam and Saeed took the fight to England, runs flowed and the England bowlers quickly lost their early control. Matthew Hoggard struggled in particular, bowling too short at both players but on the stroke of lunch Caddick got Saeed to fend to slip and Atherton redeemed himself with a good catch.

After lunch, Pakistan suffered an early blow with Yousuf Youhana snaffled at slip by Nick Knight off Caddick. It was 92-4 and England smelt blood.

Pakistan though were still fearlessly putting bat to ball and rattling along at more than four runs an over. Part-timers Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick came and went, primarily over the boundary for four and six. Inzamam was peerless and he inspired Younis Khan in a partnership of 141.

It was batting of the highest order and the England bowlers were verging on ragged. Hoggard, though, kept going and lightning struck twice for England with the last ball before a break. Younis padded up offering no stroke, and Hoggard had his first Test wicket to leave Pakistan 233 for five at tea.

The fun continued into the last session. Inzamam was gorging himself on some loose stuff but finally over indulged on Hoggard, aiming for an expansive drive and slicing to Ian Ward at backward point. There was a standing ovation for his wonderful 114.

Rashid Latif and Azhar Mahmood maintained the run flow in another dashing partnership of 50 but Hoggard pitched one up to Azhar after being thumped square the previous ball, and Knight took his second catch at slip, and Hoggard's third wicket was in the bag.

Wasim Akram, both a Pakistan and Lancashire hero, emerged to a warm reception and he stayed with Latif who completed another enterprising half-century. Gough went for 15 off one over to show that even Dazzler can be out dazzled. Gough though responded, forcing Wasim to nick one to Stewart and having Saqlain missed at slip by Knight. Fabulous entertainment and a simply classic first day at the Old Trafford Test.