Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Inzamam, Shoaib rout New Zealand by an innings in record win
May 3, 2002 - While Inzamam-ul-Haq cracked a magnificent 329, becoming the second Pakistani to score a triple ton, Shoaib Akhtar claimed his best figures of 6/11 to hand New Zealand the fifth-biggest defeat in Test history within three days.
Despite boasting of a formidable team, Pakistan had not been able to get the better of the Kiwis in a five-match ODI series and a three-match Test series when the Men in Green toured the country in 2001. Even after some brutal bowling from the pace sensation Shoaib Akhtar in one of the ODIs where he picked up five for 19, New Zealand managed to win the 5-match series 3-2.
In the Tests that followed, Pakistan dominated in the first one, winning it by a huge margin of 299 runs. But, after the second Test at Christchurch was drawn, the Kiwis hit back powerfully, registering a victory by an innings and 185 runs as the series was tied at 1-1.
When the Black Caps toured Pakistan the next year for a 3-ODI and 2-Test series, it was time for Pakistan to achieve what they had missed in alien conditions. After winning the ODIs by convincing margins, the delta between the two teams in sub-continental conditions was evident when the first Test in Lahore took place.
Batting first after winning the toss on a batting paradise in Lahore, Pakistan lost two quick wickets in the form of Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan. But, from the point that Inzamam walked to the middle and took guard, he remained unperturbed throughout his nine-and-a-half hour stay at the crease.
The No. 4 batsman got great support from young opener Imran Nazir who punished the Kiwi attack with 127 runs from 203 balls, including 18 fours and 3 sixes, before he was dismissed by Craig McMillan. By the time he was out, Pakistan had reached a place of comfort at 261 for three. What's more, Inzamam was still batting on 98 and looking well-poised for a big one.
With a pull off left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori through mid-wicket, Inzamam reached the three-figure mark. But, instead of basking in the glory of the milestone, he took fresh guard, as if he had begun another inning.
When New Zealand opted for the new ball, Inzamam joined hands with Mohammad Yousuf to make good use of the hard nut. The duo scored at over 6 RPO for the next ten overs, with Inzamam doing the bulk of the scoring. Even as Yousuf was dismissed just two balls before stumps, Pakistan finished the day at 355 for four, with Inzamam unbeaten on a magnificent 159, and Pakistan in a place of real strength.
As day 2 proceeded, the languid batsman smashed one record after another. Getting past Saleem Malik’s 237, Wasim Akram’s unbeaten 257, Zaheer Abbas’ 274 and Javed Miandad’s 280, he now had his eyes set on Hanif Mohammad’s 337 - Pakistan’s highest-scorer.
But, the heat in Lahore began to take a toll on Inzamam as he battled cramps. Running now became a challenge. Despite the denial from New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming to take the services of a runner, Inzamam became the second Pakistani batsman to breach the 300 mark, as he reached the feat in the 153rd over.
From then on, he just enjoyed himself, swinging for the fence off every delivery. He was holed out at deep mid-on on 329, becoming only the second Pakistani to score a triple ton after Hanif Mohammad.
With the Kiwi batting under tremendous pressure, Shoaib Akhtar cashed in, generating serious heat. Without any support from the Lahore strip, Shoaib put all he had into the ball, as almost each one of the 25 deliveries that he bowled in his first spell were in excess of 150 kph.
The snorters sent back openers Matt Horne and Mark Richardson within the first 10 overs, both losing their pegs. Skipper Stephen Fleming met the same fate. Chris Harris was Akhtar's fourth scalp as the pacer limped off the ground with a sprained ankle after claiming four for four in just 25 balls. Akhtar returned on day three to wipe off the tail and claim his best Test figures of 6/11.
New Zealand were skittled out for just 73 in the first inning, the lowest innings total in Lahore. They followed on and could only manage 246 in the second essay, losing the match within three days as Pakistan registered a win by an innings and 324 runs, the fifth-biggest victory in Test history.
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