| Dravid at the awards function in Lahore. (Reuters)
|Patel after scoring the half century in Lahore. (Reuters)
Lahore, April 8: The shortest cricketer on the Gaddafi turf, Parthiv Patel, stood tall on the fourth morning, but his defiance couldn’t stop Pakistan from drawing level with a nine-wicket victory in Test No. 2.
Post-Multan, everybody expected Pakistan to hit back hard. Yet, when calculated aggression was unleashed, nobody had answers. At no point did Team India look like seriously being competitive and the virus, which leads to an immediate loss after a win, struck yet again.
Today, of course, the bigger news came at the media conference, where captain Inzamam-ul Haq threatened to quit if the former players, in particular, didn't stop sniping after defeats. It’s significant that Inzamam chose a victorious moment to drive that home.
Late last evening, coach Javed Miandad sent much the same message to Pakistan’s premier newspaper group. If one reads between the lines, he probably had Imran Khan in his sights. Even a dozen years after they stopped playing together, differences abound.
It’s unlikely that either Inzamam or Miandad will walk away from possibly the most envied jobs in Pakistan, but their purpose has perhaps been served.
Indeed, most former cricketers — to an extent the media as well — would now think twice before launching into the captain and Miandad.
“I’m not against criticism, but it should be constructive.... The way we were criticised after losing the ODI series and the Multan Test is not acceptable. Itne pressure mein khelne se behtar hai ki kaptani se haat jaye (It’s better to leave the captaincy than play under such pressure),” boomed Inzamam, having regained his voice over the past few days.
So incensed was Inzamam that he barely stopped short of calling his (and Miandad’s) detractors unpatriotic. “The idea, it seemed, was to demoralise everybody associated with the team.... I’m so disappointed,” he contended.
The captain's ferocious counter took the Pakistan Cricket Board, too, by surprise. “Is that what Inzy said'” asked chief executive Rameez Raja, when a comment was sought by The Telegraph. Smiling, he added: "I suppose a very strong message has been conveyed -that nobody ought to cross limits.”
Whatever, Inzamam is riding high — having inflicted a huge defeat exactly a week after being humiliated by an innings — and has opted to make the most of the occasion.
After all, the script may unfold differently in Rawalpindi, where the deciding game begins on Tuesday.
To return to the Gaddafi, the Test ended 26 minutes after lunch when Pakistan reached their destination (40) losing Imran Farhat. Earlier, Patel remained unbeaten on 62 in India's second innings’ 241. Virender Sehwag, overnight on 86, managed to add just four and his exit extinguished hopes of a challenging target.
“We were outplayed by a team which produced better cricket.… In retrospect, a lot of things could have been done differently but, really, we didn’t bat to potential on the first morning. Then, yesterday, we allowed the tail to score big,” remarked a palpably disappointed stand-in captain Rahul Dravid.
He didn’t quite agree that his run out on the third afternoon was the turning point, but Inzamam definitely felt so. Interestingly, the Pakistan captain’s own run out in Multan (fourth afternoon) was the most decisive moment there.
Umar Gul — described by Dravid as a “surprise package” and an “inspired selection” — was adjudged Man of the Match. He returned a career-best five for 31 in innings No. 1 and, then, evicted V.V.S. Laxman with a beauty yesterday.