West Indies v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Kingston June 7, 2005

Inzamam and Kaneria make it count

Inzamam-ul-Haq and Danish Kaneria showed just how valuable they are to the Pakistan team - when they fired the team won, and won easily
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When Inzamam-ul-Haq scores, Pakistan inevitably wins © Getty Images

The end came swiftly on the final day, with only 29 runs being added for the loss of four wickets. For Pakistan though, it could not have come soon enough. A good series in India meant they arrived in the Caribbean with high hopes. A disappointing showing in the first Test meant they needed to pick up the pieces quickly. Fortunately for them, Inzamam-ul-Haq, their rock-solid leader, was back in harness, having served his one-Test ban. It made a difference, almost the difference between victory and defeat.

In the first innings, Inzamam made a confident 50, and this was enough, along with a major contribution of 106 from Younis Khan, to take Pakistan to 374 despite a fine bowling performance from Corey Collymore, who walked away with figures of 7 for 78 - his second seven-wicket haul in Jamaica. But it was in the second innings that Inzamam really stamped his authority on the match. Two wickets had fallen in three balls, and Pakistan were delicately poised at 109 for 3. Another wicket at that stage would have been disastrous - and it almost came, when Colleymore induced the edge from Inzamam, only for Courtney Browne to spill the chance.

But from that moment on, Inzamam blunted the West Indian attack. Slowly but surely he began to pile on the runs, unfurling the big shots often enough, even under pressure, to pick up 14 boundaries in an unbeaten innings of 117. This was Inzamam's 22nd Test century, and it is worth noting that 17 of these centuries have resulted in Pakistan wins. To take it one step further - two more of his centuries have resulted in draws. When Inzamam scores, and scores big, Pakistan just don't lose.

But putting runs on the board is only one half of the battle. Even after Inzamam had done his best, West Indies were left with only 280 to win. The target was not a small one, but it was by no means unattainable. With the likes of Chris Gayle and Brian Lara about, two good sessions of batting could bring 280 down to a very manageable level. At that point, in stepped Danish Kaneria.



Danish Kaneria's return to full effectiveness killed West Indies' hopes © Getty Images

Kaneria had struggled in the first Test, mercilessly and brutally attacked by Lara, arguably the best player of spin bowling in the world at the moment, and was simply not allowed to settle into any kind of rhythm. But the situation was a bit different in the second innings of the second Test. The top was beginning to come off the Sabina Park pitch, and Kaneria had made a minor adjustment to his method, pushing the ball through just a bit quicker in the air. The first over he bowled set the tone. Ramnaresh Sarwan was bamboozled, unable to read the ball out of the hand, and relying instead on the hazardous method of watching it off the pitch. Kaneria seized the opportunity with both hands.

He tormented Sarwan and sent him packing, perhaps more than once - as a loud shout for caught-behind was turned down. Then came the man who had caused him so much grief. Kaneria knew full well that Lara was at his most vulnerable when he first came to the pitch, and focused on attacking him. Lara lasted only three balls, tickling a ball down the leg-side to Kamran Akmal. And from then on, Kaneria was a changed man. He found his zip, his big legbreak, his accuracy, and the quick straight one that hurries onto the batsman. Before the shellshocked West Indians knew it, Kaneria had 5 for 46, and the game was over. If there has been one complaint about Kaneria, it has been that his five-wicket hauls had come at too high a cost in terms of runs. No-one could say that this time.

To win this Test was crucial for Pakistan. Had they failed to do so, they would sacrificed many of the gains the team has made as a unit in recent times. Having levelled the series, Bob Woolmer and Inzamam can allow themselves a moment to reflect on their significant achievements.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo