Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was always believed to be a prodigy and it was another Pakistan legend Imran Khan who had first discovered the elegant stroke-maker. However, very few people know that it was legendary Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar who helped Inzamam-ul-Haq battle his short-ball woes.
Inzamam-ul-Haq was riding on a high after a phenomenal 1992 World Cup campaign where his match-winning 60 in the semi-finals against New Zealand lifted Pakistan into the final.
Pakistan went on to win the World Cup under the leadership of Imran Khan and it was followed by an England tour where bowlers targeted Inzamam-ul-Haq’s weakness against short-pitched bowling.
“I went to England after 1992 World Cup at the back of a tremendous performance in the mega event. It was my first-ever tour to England. I didn’t have any idea as how should I play on those pitches. I was going through a bad patch as I was unable to play short-pitched deliveries,’’ Inzamam-ul-Haq said on his YouTube channel.
It was the technical genius of Sunil Gavaskar that came to Inzamam-ul-Haq’s rescue. Sunil Gavaskar was a master against quick bowling having faced the best pacers from West Indies, Australia and England.
Inzamam-ul-Haq ran into Sunil Gavaskar during a charity game on the England and wasn’t hesitant in seeking his advice.
“It was somewhere half of our season that I met him at a charity match in England. We both had gone to play that match. And I asked him ‘Sunil bhai I’m facing problems to play short-pitched balls, what should I do’?" Inzamam recalled.
“As great are the ways of the great, he told me to do only one little thing, that is, ‘don’t think about short-pitched balls or bouncers while batting because the moment you’ll think about them you’ll get trapped’. He told me that when the bowler would deliver the ball you would automatically understand; so don’t get worried about that,” Inzamam-ul-Haq, who went on to captain Pakistan in 31 Tests, said.
Inzamam-ul-Haq is one of Pakistan's greatest batsman ever
Inzamam-ul-Haq went on to become one of the all-time Pakistan greats, scoring 8830 Test and 11739 ODI runs over a career spanning 16 years. The former chief selector of Pakistan senior men’s team said that he implemented Sunil Gavaskar’s advice in the nets and eradicated the problem against short deliveries.
“While in nets, I started practicing the way he told me. I strengthened my mind, telling myself not to think about that (short-pitched balls). The weakness was removed. And from 1992 till the time I retired, I never faced that problem again,” the 50-year-old said.