England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Lord's, 2nd day July 14, 2006

Inzi's zombies beat surrender

Inzamam-ul-Haq: a time to wake up, a time to inspire © Getty Images

There is a theory that inhabitants of hot climates are quick to emotion. On the evidence of the last two days that theory deserves to be junked. The sun has blazed down at Lord's but the crowd--with fewer Pakistan fans than expected or hoped for--has watched politely and the players have mostly kept any flicker of emotion a secret.

Until Steve Harmison's double-wicket burst--and desire to break the 90pmh barrier--this had been a listless Test match, played with a sterility that makes you wistful for the acrimony that these two teams usually serve up. Pakistan are the main culprits here, although England's three-and-a-half runs per over was a dull affair replete with nudges, nurdles, and sensible cricket shots. Geraint Jones's six over cover point appeared to be a stroke from a parallel universe. This modus operandi suits England better than Pakistan and Inzamam-ul Haq better wake up to it.

Pakistan are at their best when they are passionate, on the hunt or on the boil. Passion and verve inspires them to moments of genius. And Lord's is an arena that emboldens visiting teams, desperate to leave their mark on cricket's most famous stage. Pakistan's breakthrough victory was at Lord's in 1982 when Imran Khan's captaincy suddenly demanded to be taken seriously. Subsequent Pakistan teams have fought every breath to create their own history. Yet over the last two days Inzi's troops have wandered around Lord's like zombies, going through the motions instead of seizing the moments.

And it is times like this when Inzi's captaincy becomes most worrying. He manages tension well, usually through his calming demeanour but sometimes courtesy of a spasm of passion that shows he really does care. Backs-to-the-wall stuff he has mastered ever since he blinked at the gloom of Auckland and the mountain of runs that he was destined to climb in 1992 World Cup semi-final. When the future is uncertain, the path of the game undecided, he is stupefied. A shake of the hands, a nod of the head, a quiet word in a distant ear, and that's your lot. Inzi at the helm is a study in minimalism. It could lull a cornered tiger to catatonia.

Attitude aside, Pakistan will be kicking themselves--if they can muster the enthusiasm that is. After witnessing the hasty surrender of England's tail they know that this Lord's Friday could have been one of building on a winning position. Instead Pakistan's low-key warriors face a hammering that might be hard to recover from given their bowling poverty. Their low-key state is hard to understand. This is the first Test. This is Lord's. This is a battle for second place in the world. Pakistan's approach, though, has been one of sheepishness at finding themselves in second place in the Test rankings, gatecrashers at the top table. This attitude is not that of a team pumped up and ready to knock Australia off top spot. This attitude fills me with dread and drains me of hope. Nobody, though, will condemn them if they go down fighting--and a fight requires passion.

By way of release, Inzi can return to backs-to-the-wall mode tomorrow, do or die, a situation far less complex than the infinite possibilities of the early stages of a Test. What needs to be done has become simple. Pakistan will hope that this is exactly what is needed to rouse Inzi and his team. For let's be clear: Pakistan might have just surrendered the series in its first two days. This is a moment for leadership not passivity. It is also Inzi's last Test at Lord's. Wake up man.

Kamran Abbasi is the editor of Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine