Inzamam defies the West Indies

Paul Short in Guyana sees troubled Pakistan fight their corner

The rest of the world may be talking about Pakistan's cricket team for all the wrong reasons just at the moment, but on the field here at the Bourda ground they have shown huge character - or at least one huge character - in a magnificent fightback.

The build-up to the first Test here had been completely overshadowed by the International Cricket Council's meeting in London over the match-fixing affair. And the Pakistanis in particular have been the centre of worldwide attention because of the much-publicised, though so far well hidden, report by Justice Qayyum. This is due to be handed over to the cricket authorities soon, and is expected to name names and recommend action. There has also been much speculation over the position of the former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram, a key member of this tour party.

Small wonder, then, that they quickly found themselves in trouble in their first innings. Finding the great fast bowlers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in irresistible form, they slumped to 39 for 5. But cometh the hour and all that, and just when Pakistan needed a hero they found one in the impressive figure of Inzamam-ul-Haq.

The vice-captain, the one proven batsman of international quality they have here, rebuilt the shattered innings with his 10th Test century, and by lunch on the second day yesterday, the tourists had reached relative prosperity at 262 for 6. Inzamam finally perished for 135.

He was helped in his task by the fledgling 20-year-old all-rounder, Abdur Razzaq, who was not out on 87 at lunch yesterday. The pair started their rescue act an hour and 20 minutes into play after the evergreen Ambrose and Walsh had instigated a familiar top order collapse. Inzamam was joined by Razzaq when captain Moin Khan was the fifth man out in just the 17th over of the series.

Lacking the variety of identifiable spin in their all-pace attack, the West Indies were eventually reduced to defensive measures in ideal conditions.

Inzamam's 62 Tests are 22 more than the other four in the Pakistan top order put together, and 58 more than Razzaq who is in his fourth. He required all his experience and class to prevent the spirited West Indies capitalising on the early inroads made by their fast bowlers. Inzamam took 178 balls to compile his century, which was his third against the West Indies.

Equally vital was the role of Razzaq, the latest of the young Pakistanis whose temperament and technique allow them to fit so comfortably into the game at the highest level.

Timing his strokes with confident certainty, Inzamam presented just one unaccepted chance, a flying, finger-tip catch to Sherwin Campbell at second slip off Reon King in the penultimate before lunch on the first day when he was 38.

Razzaq also had one escape, to the wicketkeeper Ridley Jacobs off Jimmy Adams' speculative left-arm spin when he was 74. Razzaq reached his maiden test half-century off 160 balls, with seven fours. He soon celebrated by lashing two fours from a Nixon McLean over that cost 13. The pair became the new sixth-wicket partnership record-holders for Pakistan against the West Indies, eclipsing the 166 between Wazir Mohammad and Abdul Kardar at Kingston, Jamaica in 1958.

The West Indies would have been delighted with the start they got after winning the toss and deciding to bowl first. Walsh struck in the sixth over, breaching Wajahatullah Wasti's uncertain defence to bowl him off stump. Ambrose soon got into the act, sending back Mohammad Wasim five balls later, the batsman deflecting his defensive back-foot stroke back on to his stumps. Ambrose added the wickets of Younis Khan and Yousuf Youhana from successive balls. King in his first Test on his home ground, hit with his first ball, Moin Khan cutting to Adams in the gully.

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