Tuesday, October 23, 2007


In the earlier days I always hated him for the fact that he almost always played well against India. I called him Inzamam Ul ‘Fuck’ whenever he played against India. But in later years, it was an altogether different matter when my brain got the cricketing capability to understand the beauty of his shots. I started to wait for his turn at the crease and I cared little even if it was against India. I badly wanted India to win after we posted 350 in the first match of the 2004 tour of Pakistan and at the same time I didn’t want to see the end of Inzamam’s brilliant innings. In simple words I wanted Inzy to score a century and India to win but there was no way that both could happen and something had to give way. I thought he would never make it to the pavilion when he finally began his slow walk back which seemed like an eternity, after 122 brilliant runs and eventually Pakistan fell 5 runs short.

He has all the shots in the book but there were others too who had it. It was the way in which he executed those shots made him special. His cover drive was a crouched half-defence, half-shot with minimum movements while his on-drive was just a flick of the wrists. His pull shot was fast and furious with the nimbleness of a ballet dancer and the balance of a skilled ropewalker but the secret behind that shot was the speed with which picked up the length. He always seems to have so much time to play the shots. I have never seen a fast bowler making him hurried through a shot and he was the best player against fast bowling in the last decade along with Ricky Ponting, be it a bouncy Perth or a spongy Durban or a seaming Headingly. And for a long long period he was arguably Pakistan’s best batsman until Mohammed Yousuf came of the age in the last 18 months.

I cried with him when he retired from one-dayers with tears in his eyes but the pure joy he has given for millions around the world over a career of 15 years is invaluable. This time he kept his emotions to himself but his current captain Shoiab Malik broke down at the ground and it showed what he meant to others in the team. He was uncertain while he was asked about his future after his retirement but all of us will be lucky if he takes his bat again to play in IPL. It is difficult to put it in words what we are going to miss but it is time to thank for what he has given and what we have seen and experienced. We all should feel privileged to be a part of an entire generation of cricket lovers who were enthralled to see the magic wave of his bat, which sent deliveries from the world’s best bowlers to outside the ground with the nonchalance of a man who plays backyard cricket with little kids. Bye bye Inzy. Thanks for the memories.