The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A leader is born
- My innings had nothing to do with proving anything to anybody: Inzamam
Younis Khan, who is batting on 127, celebrates after scoring his century in Bangalore on Thursday

Bangalore: Captains are many, but leaders few. The one stand-out quality among those in the latter category is their ability to lead from the front.

Thus far, few have given Inzamam-ul Haq high marks. At the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday, though, Pakistan's most accomplished batsman took the first steps towards being recognised as a leader, not just captain.

Riding a flawless exhibition, Inzamam pulled, swept and drove to an unbeaten 184 (357 minutes, 263 balls, 25x4) in his 100th Test. More important, with deputy Younis Khan, he steadied his team after Lakshmipathy Balaji and Irfan Pathan's early strikes.

At stumps on the opening day of the final Test for the TVS Cup, Pakistan were a muscular 323 for two, with Younis ' a centurion at the Eden as well ' on 127 (361 minutes, 267 deliveries, 12x4, 1x6).

The pair has added an awesome 316, only the fourth instance when anybody has taken 300 or more off India for any wicket. Moreover, it's the highest against India (any wicket) at home.

Trailing 0-1, the work however is far from over.

'Abhi celebrate kya karenge... Pehle 500 banana hai aur phir series ko equal karna hai,' a visibly tired Inzamam, the fifth to score a century in his 100th Test, told The Telegraph.

He grinned when asked if he had proved a point to the many detractors.

'My innings had nothing to do with proving anything to anybody... The team was in deep trouble (two down for seven in the third over) and I needed to make winning the toss on such a flat wicket count,' Inzamam maintained.

He certainly made Sourav Ganguly count the runs.

Incidentally, Inzamam took guard knowing the late Colin Cowdrey, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge and Alec Stewart each had a century in their most special Test. 'Kal mujhe kisi ne bata diya tha... I knew where I would stand if I got my 21st,' he remarked.

Earlier, at a Media conference, Inzamam emotionally observed 'bahut jyada khushi ho rahi hai.' Also, that the early pressure and torturous heat ' he had cramps after tea ' actually made batting a very demanding exercise.

He was, of course, generous in praising his deputy: 'Younis, I think, played better and it's nice that somebody is accepting responsibility... The Indian bowlers didn't bowl badly, it's just that the wicket mehnat karenawala hai...'

Inzamam dedicated his superlative effort to his father, Pir Intezam-ul, who watched his son make history in person. Among others, the captain's wife and children were present too.

Not surprisingly, Inzamam picked his latest innings as 'most satisfying... the No.1...' Till yesterday, the 329 versus New Zealand a few years ago, ranked at the top.

Younis, meanwhile, looked embarrassed when informed his captain gave him a higher rating. 'At the end of the day, Inzybhai had 57 runs more... That shows who played better,' he insisted.

Talking about centuries in successive Tests, the vice-captain said: 'I'm enjoying extra responsibility and I'm batting positively... I didn't get runs in Mohali, but didn't allow that to affect me... If I had, I couldn't have scored at the Eden and here...'

Younis, clearly, is delighted ' perhaps, even relieved ' being among the runs. After all, as he reminded, 'India aur Pakistan mein hero se zero banne mein time nahin lagta...'

Today, he's a hero.

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