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The Beast who didn’t use strength

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Last updated on 03 Mar 2023 | 04:38 AM
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The Beast who didn’t use strength

Pakistan's thrid leading run-scorer in Test cricket, Inzamam-ul-Haq was born on this day in 1970

Long before the term “lazy elegance” went viral by getting associated with India cricket team captain Rohit Sharma, it was personified by former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq. Many would even argue that the Multan-born, stocky-built middle-order batsman was the most talented batsman Pakistan has ever produced.

Cricket is one of those rare sports where athleticism hasn’t always been a quintessential element to succeed, not at least in the early 90s when Inzamam-ul-Haq made his ODI debut. Cricketers were still judged by the arsenal of shots they had up their sleeves rather than their Yo-yo test score, and Inzi’s story wasn’t any different.

He was handpicked by Imran Khan, whom scouts informed about Inzi. However, no matter how good a scout report is, including a batsman in a World Cup squad after just five minutes of the net session with Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram did raise many eyebrows back then. But Imran Khan was a visionary as it would later prove to be.

Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 60 off 37 deliveries in the 1992 Cricket World Cup against New Zealand and the 42-run knock against England in the final became the cornerstone for Pakistan’s title-winning run that year. Born on March 3, 1970, Inzi was just 21 when he debuted for Pakistan and had taken only a few matches to get to his first half-century.

Despite the look, Inzamam wasn’t your average big-sized cricketers of today who rely on brute strength and pyrotechnics to send the ball out of the park. In the body of a beast, Inzi had a monkish perfectionist who loved playing cricketing shots by the grammar book and saw Pakistan over the line from precarious positions on multiple occasions.

Inzamam’s demeanour reflected the older times of cricket, where records weren’t put over class, and a polished straight drive in a Test match was met with grand applause from the filled stands. Inzi’s take on the game was also the same. He didn’t care about being politically correct and always knew where to draw the competitive line.

Being overweight, Inzamam had been on the receiving end of scathing criticism almost his entire career. Running between the wickets was a skill he never really understood and was always a liability for himself and his teammates. But that didn’t stop him from retiring as Pakistan’s second-highest run-scorer.

What Inzi lacked in athleticism, he compensated with pure cricketing talent. Whether it be his unbeaten 58 against Australia in Karachi (1994) or the 138* against Bangladesh in Multan (2003), he delivered most gracefully whenever Pakistan fell back on their gentle giant.

A genuinely passionate player of cricket, who lived for the moments, Inzamam never cared about the numbers or the legacy he would leave behind. How else could you justify his retirement when he was just three runs behind Javed Miandad, Pakistan’s second-leading run-scorer in Test cricket. 

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