Over the last few years,
Pakistan's fortunes in Tests have revolved largely around the immense figure of
Inzamam-ul-Haq: when he makes a significant score, the team is usually assured
at least a draw; when he misses out, there is normally a defeat looming. His
performance at Faisalabad - when he became only the fifth Pakistan batsman to
score a century in each innings - extricated a team which was losing ground fast
to a charged-up England. It was also fitting that his hundred in the second
innings made him the highest century-maker for Pakistan, overtaking Javed
Miandad's tally of 23.
A look at the stats for the two batsmen reveal more than a few similarities.
Miandad took 124 matches to notch up those centuries compared to Inzamam's 104,
but compensated for that by ending up with an outstanding average of 52.57,
marginally higher than Inzamam's current 51.32. Both were talismanic for the
team: only one of Miandad's hundreds happened to be in a game that Pakistan
lost, while for Inzamam that figure was two. And the averages of both batsmen in
defeats are separated only by a few decimal points.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect about Inzamam's performances has been his
ability to shut out the pressures of captaincy when he is at the crease; indeed,
the added responsibility has brought out the best in him - in just 16 matches as
leader, Inzamam has already notched up six centuries, with an outstanding
average of 61.56. In 34 matches as captain, Miandad managed only five centuries,
though his average was a perfectly acceptable 50.