The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pak winner in drawn series
- Sourav has to remind people India is level, not loser

Bangalore, March 28: Declarations can become dicey and, so, Inzamam-ul Haq was a tad anxious last night. 'Namaaz se lekin mujhe sukoon mila and I slept pretty well,' the emotionally drained Pakistan captain told The Telegraph after the stunning win here.

Given the way Team India destructed itself this afternoon, there actually was no need to have worried about possibly losing the Test series 0-2.

As the script unfolded, Pakistan slapped a 168-run defeat (with just 6.1 overs remaining) to make it 1-1. Believe it or not, India was 102 for one at lunch. The last two sessions produced as few as 112 runs.

A draw was there for the taking, yet.'

Eighteen years ago, Imran Khan's men had pulled off a sensational victory at the same venue. Inzamam was then in his teens and, today, couldn't recall the celebrations back in Multan.

'Bahut din guzar gaye hain. What I do remember is being thrilled and hoping to play for Pakistan. It's nice to know that this time I've myself helped bring joy to millions,' he said.

Inzamam, though, has been banned for one Test for dissent. He went especially berserk when Billy Bowden turned down an appeal against MoS Virender Sehwag and will sit out the Test in Barbados.

To return to the Chinnaswamy disaster, the Indians went ultra defensive the moment Gautam Gambhir (who, by the way, ran out Sehwag) fell after lunch. It was a blunder of Himalayan proportions, allowing Inzamam to employ umbrella fields and play on the nerves in an even bigger way.

'Yes, I was surprised the Indians went into a shell... I got to attack and, as the wicket had begun to deteriorate, realised the new batsmen would find it difficult,' Inzamam observed.

He added: 'Honestly, at lunch, I wasn't hopeful. It appeared this Test would be drawn. But, then, we put in a zabardast effort.'

Sourav Ganguly denied that blocking everything was the 'official' policy, but accepted no 'message' was sent from the dressing room when Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar kept inviting pressure.

Dravid required 65 balls to make 16; Sachin (now past Sunil Gavaskar's 10,122) took 98 to score his 16. Between lunch and tea, a mere 38 was added for the loss of four wickets. Most of the damage, of course, was done by part-timer Shahid Afridi.

'Our agenda was to play normal cricket. As for what happened, we lost too many wickets. No message went to Sachin as he has a wealth of experience,' Sourav explained.

He himself failed yet again and looked terribly lonely when he stood his ground unsure whether Afridi had bowled him (in embarrassing manner) or the ball had rebounded off Kamran Akmal.

Inzamam played a terrific captain's hand (184, first innings) in what was his 100th Test and, besides, was unusually aggressive on the final day. Sourav flopped when he could have obliterated recent failures.

'It's not my worst defeat and it's for the selectors to think about the captaincy. I don't have to prove anything to anybody. However, I accept I must score. It's hard being the captain and not scoring,' Sourav declared in his customary shooting from-the-hip fashion.

Speaking at the media conference, he reminded the series had been drawn and not lost. Yet, even years on, most are probably going to recall Pakistan's spectacular comeback and not the Indian win at the Eden.

Sourav didn't talk about it, but the boos would have hurt.

Inzamam, appropriately, dedicated the fateh to every Pakistani. And, in his moment of glory, declined to hit back at critics who didn't give his ('weakest-ever') team a chance.

'Unka kaam hai bolna, hamara kaam hai khelna... I don't have anything else to say,' Inzamam maintained, underlining that his was a young outfit and youngsters needed a 'big victory' to grow in confidence.

Tonight, after gains from Mohali to Bangalore, that's sky high.

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