A genuine matchwinner

Fifteen years after his Test debut, Inzamam-ul-Haq signed off a glittering career on the final day of the second Test against South Africa in Lahore. His performance in the sign-off Test wasn't what he would have wanted it to be, and while that hardly diminishes from an exceptional career, it did mean he missed out on a couple of important landmarks.

The 17 runs in his 120th and final Test not only left Inzamam - who finished with a Test aggregate of 8830 - two runs short of equalling Javed Miandad as Pakistan's leading run-getter in Tests, but also brought his career batting average down to 49.60, marginally below the 50-mark, which is considered by many as a benchmark to distinguish between a good and a great batsman. In Inzamam's case, however, that definition clearly doesn't hold.

Inzamam's best year in Tests was 2005, where he scored 1000 runs at 83.33 in eight matches. He was particularly impressive between 2000 and 2003, when he amassed 2963 runs, including 10 hundreds, at an average of 61.73.The last couple of years clearly weren't great ones for him, though: he averaged 35.36 in 15 Tests since the start of 2006.

Inzamam's overall average slipped below 50, but he still finished with an average of 50.16 for Pakistan, as he played the Super Test for the World XI against Australia, where he made one run in two innings. (For Inzamam's career summary, click here.)

The aspect of Inzamam's career that stands out is his ability to be a matchwinner. When he scored runs, Pakistan usually won. Pakistan's reliance on him is also reflected in the fact that his average plummets to 28.36 in the 39 Tests Pakistan have lost while he's played.

He averages a phenomenal 78.16 in matches won by his team, putting him in elite company -among batsmen with at least 3000 runs, only two batsmen average more.

Another current player who's done exceptionally well in matches won is Michael Hussey. Though he hasn't scored 3000 runs in wins yet, he averages 84.22 for his 1516 runs in the 15 matches won by Australia.

Inzamam's averages soars to a Bradmanesque 94.42 in matches won at home, while Bradman himself hovers above the 150-mark.

With 17 of his 25 hundreds coming in wins, Inzamam squeezes himself right in the middle of eight Australians in the list of batsmen with most hundreds in winning causes. Ricky Ponting tops the list with 26, and barring Don Bradman and Greg Chappell, he's played alongside the rest - brothers Steve and Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist.

Inzamam also captained Pakistan in 31 Tests from 2001 till earlier this year, winning and losing 11 of the 31 matches in which he led the team, including the controversial forfeiture against England last year. However, captaincy didn't affect Inzamam the batsman: his average as leader stayed over 50.

It's inevitable that Inzamam will always be compared to Miandad, and rightly so, as it was Inzamam who took over the mantle of being Pakistan's mainstay from Miandad. Both Inzamam and Miandad have similar away records, while Miandad averages significantly higher at home.

Inzamam averages over 50 against most teams, but the one blotch on his stats are his numbers against the best teams during his playing days: against both Australia and South Africa, his average dips into the 30s. Even here, the numbers are similar for Miandad. Against West Indies, the best team during his time, Miandad averaged marginally below 30.

Though Inzamam is widely known for his poor running-between-the-wickets, Miandad is the one who has a higher percentage of run-out dismissals. Inzamam's run-out woes are largely in ODIs, having being dismissed 40 times in that manner. Inzamam and Miandad have similar dismissal percentages, the only difference being while Miandad has been caught behind far more often.

In their 189 and 200 innings, Miandad and Inzamam have remained unbeaten 21 and 22 times during their career.

Inzamam, however, has the highest number of centuries for a Pakistan batsman, and he has also scored a triple-hundred, something that Miandad failed to achieve despite being able to convert the hundreds into big ones.