Go big or go home‚ Inzamam tells Pakistan's players. But does that include his nephew?

10 December 2018 - 15:06 By Telford Vice
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Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq.
Pakistan's Imam-ul-Haq.

Inzamam-ul-Haq wasn’t to be messed with as a player‚ and nothing’s changed now that he is Pakistan’s selection boss.

“All the players have to realise their responsibilities and perform their roles in the team otherwise they will go home now and there will be changes in the team‚” he said in Lahore at the weekend.

In short‚ go big or go home.

Inzamam spoke in the wake of Pakistan’s 2-1 Test series defeat by New Zealand in the Emirates‚ where they were dismissed for fewer than 200 twice and reached 400 just once.

And that despite the fact that six of the nine 50s in a series that featured no centuries — but four efforts of at least 80 — were scored by Pakistanis.

That cut no ice with Inzamam: “Players are not selected for Pakistan to not cope with pressure. This is their job as professionals.”

They will get the chance to prove they have taken the big fella seriously in their Test series in South Africa‚ which starts in Centurion on December 26.

A little coercive motivation can be a good thing‚ but it’s not what a team need hanging over their heads going into a match on one of cricket’s most pace-friendly pitches and against a world class seam attack.

Pakistan themselves know this only too well‚ having lost 35 of their 40 wickets to South Africa’s fast bowlers in their two Tests at the ground‚ in January 2007 and February 2013.

The number of overs of spin the Pakistanis faced in those games? Just 44.2 of the total of 317.5. Or less than 14%.

Chances are batting conditions will ease in the second Test on Newlands’ more balanced surface. But runs won’t come easily in the third match at the Wanderers.

Pakistan have won two of their dozen Tests in South Africa‚ but those games were played on the country’s slowest pitches: at Kingsmead in March 1998 and St George’s Park in January 2007.

The good news‚ for them‚ is that both of those successes were achieved under pressure.

The first followed a Test at the Wanderers that started a day late in the wake of two Mohammad Akram and Saqlain Mushtaq claiming they had been violently mugged near the team hotel.

Probably closer to the truth was that they had been beaten up at Club 69 and the Blue Orchid‚ two of Joburg’s finest strip joints.

That Pakistan managed to scrap their way to a draw after all that was impressive‚ perhaps more than their victory — by 29 runs — in Durban a few days later‚ when leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed took match figures of 9/149.

In 2007 they bounced back from losing the first Test by seven wickets in Centurion to win by five wickets in Port Elizabeth.

That‚ too‚ was drenched in drama: Shoaib Akhtar allegedly used a bat to attack one of his teammates in the dressing room.

Pakistan’s coach at the time‚ Bob Woolmer‚ apparently tried to intervene to keep the peace and was accused of making racist slurs against Shoaib‚ which he denied.

Whatever the truth of it‚ an altercation on the players’ balcony was broadcast live on television for all to see.

For their imminent tour‚ Pakistan have pre-packed controversy along with their pads.

Opener Imam-ul-Haq scored 73 runs in six innings against New Zealand‚ fewer than five of his compatriots — not the kind of stat a top order batter wants next to their name.

That’s a famous name‚ of course‚ and it belongs to Inzamam’s nephew.

“I know he didn’t get runs against New Zealand but we have to see that in the past one year he has got runs and we need to give him a long run‚” Inzamam said.

“If he doesn’t get runs in South Africa then he can also be dropped by the selectors.”

But will he be sent home‚ uncle Inzi?

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