'Everyone cried in the dressing room'
The 2003 Multan Test ended in heartbreak for Bangladesh, but for Inzamam-ul-Haq it was a match that saved his career
The 2003 Multan Test ended in heartbreak for Bangladesh, but for Inzamam-ul-Haq it was a match that saved his career
Inzamam-ul-Haq, coming off a horrid World Cup, played the innings of his life with an unbeaten 138
Inzamam-ul-Haq, coming off a horrid World Cup, played the innings of his life with an unbeaten 138 © AFP
Before they arrived in Pakistan in 2003, Bangladesh had lost 20 of their previous 21 Tests. A three-match Test series seemed destined to produce similar results, and so it proved with losses in Karachi and Peshawar. The home team, under Rashid Latif, who took over after the side led by Waqar Younis bombed in the 2003 World Cup, predictably dominated the matches.
But in the third game, in Multan, Bangladesh came agonisingly close to their maiden Test win, only to be foiled by Inzamam-ul-Haq, who reincarnated himself as a batsman and went on to take his team into a new era as captain, replacing Latif.
Khaled Mahmud, former Bangladesh captain Dav [Whatmore, the coach] had told me ahead of the series that Mashrafe Mortaza would play two of the three Tests. Mashrafe insisted that he wanted to play in Peshawar after I asked him to skip that game. He was young, so I didn't want to argue with him. But when I saw the green wicket in Multan, I asked Dav, "Give me Mashrafe." But he said that we will stick to our plan. He was young and was injury-prone, and we needed him for the rest of the tour.
Rashid Latif, former Pakistan captain and wicketkeeper That they would come good in Multan was always expected. They played some good cricket overall in Karachi and Peshawar. They even scored over 300 in Peshawar, so it was always expected that they could do some damage. We might have won 3-0, but it was a tough series.
Mahmud decided to bat first on a Multan pitch that, according to Wisden, "had a hint of grass". Pakistan picked three debutants, one of whom was fast bowler Yasir Ali, who was also making his first-class debut and apparently had to borrow a shoe.
"I did realise immediately that the ball rolled out of my hand and it touched the ground. I conveyed that to my senior players. I gave an option to recall the batsman but it was decided that we will let him go. But I have no regrets"
Habibul Bashar, former Bangladesh captain During the first two Tests, Mohammad Yousuf used to tease us saying, "Multan mein ghaas hai" [There is going to be grass on the Multan pitch]. It was indeed a green wicket there, and I rate my 72 in the first innings as one of my best knocks. Javed [Omar] and I were the only batsmen in consistent form during the series, so it was nice to get into a partnership with him.
Yasir Ali, former Pakistan fast bowler I was the most inexperienced guy on the field, with no first-class cricket under my belt, but it was a privilege to make my Test debut, and the game eventually became a historic one.
We had an inexperienced bowling line-up. We were also bowling more back of a length.
Despite a promising start, Bangladesh were all out on the second morning for 281. Bangladesh then bowled out Pakistan for 175, the first time they had bowled out a side for less than 200 runs in a Test innings. Salman Butt, one of the debutants, made 12. Mohammad Rafique took his third five-wicket haul.
Salman Butt, Pakistan batsman We were a bit careful facing Rafique. He was their best spinner and had a lot of experience, but still the rest of their bowling wasn't that great. We relaxed against them since we had already won the series. But in cricket if you underestimate any team, you suffer exactly the way we did.
Khaled Mahmud: "I couldn't stop myself from getting emotional. We couldn't believe we had lost that game"
Khaled Mahmud: "I couldn't stop myself from getting emotional. We couldn't believe we had lost that game" © AFP
Mahmud Rafique gave me peace of mind. I knew he would do his job. He could bowl on that coin, he was so accurate. His commitment was tremendous. As a unit we did a great job. We bowled out a side for less than 200 for the first time in Tests. They were a good side. It was a big deal for us at the time.
Under pressure as captain, Mahmud saw his bowling average swell to 406 at the end of their previous series, against Australia. It had come down to 111.60 ahead of this game, but a four-wicket haul, his career-best figures, brought it down to 55.25.
Mahmud My bowling average was terrible before this Test match. I was useful in conditions that encouraged swing and seam. I could swing the ball at decent pace and use the conditions. I bowled well in Peshawar but I was only containing runs. I was very excited to bowl on that Multan wicket. I was swinging the ball, cutting it by hitting the seam. I could have had six wickets instead of four. I had to hear talk of retirement before every Test, so it was always hard for me. I think it was a Test match where I discovered myself as a bowler.
The game moved along rapidly on the second day, with Pakistan getting bowled out for 175, but they quickly removed Bashar for just 3 in the fifth over of their second innings, his first failure in the series.
Bashar I will forever regret not making runs in the second innings. I was quite consistent in that series, so a few more runs from me may have made some difference. Batting well in the second innings was the real worry, maybe more than how well we had done in the first innings. There was a lot of time at hand.
"I think Rafique bhai did the perfect thing by not mankading Gul. We were a struggling side back then and such an incident would have made life more difficult for us"
Mahmud We wanted a 250-plus lead at least. I thought we had enough of a lead on that wicket in which we struggled in the second innings against their bowling attack.
Bangladesh slipped to 41 for 4 before Alok Kapali had to go off with a hand injury minutes before stumps on the second day. On the third morning, Kapali returned to bat at the fall of Mahmud's wicket. Straightaway he began attacking the bowlers. Then he edged a short one from Yasir, which Latif dived to his right to catch. While landing, Latif dropped the ball and picked it up from the ground with his back to the umpire. Kapali and the umpires didn't notice, but the replays were quite clear that he had dropped it. Latif was later banned for five ODIs and never played a Test match for Pakistan again.
Latif You do everything for your country. I did realise immediately that the ball rolled out of my hand and it touched the ground. I conveyed that to my senior players. I gave an option to recall the batsman but it was decided that we will let him go. I have no regrets. It's a war and we both were playing cricket and I never surrender, so I had to do what was needed. Call it cheating but I have no regret at all.
Yasir My wicket was a notorious one. Rashid bhai claimed that catch, which was later revealed as dropped. I really feel bad for him actually, because it happened so fast. None of us knew what to do.
Bangladesh were bowled out for 154, leaving Pakistan to chase 261 in two and a half days.
Bashar We knew that there would be a result, with more than two days in hand. We just wanted to score as much as possible. But it didn't happen.
Habibul Bashar: "It was indeed a green wicket, and I rate my 72 in the first innings as one of my best knocks"
Habibul Bashar: "It was indeed a green wicket, and I rate my 72 in the first innings as one of my best knocks" © AFP
Pakistan lost early wickets in their chase. Mortaza, who came on as a substitute fielder to replace the injured Kapali, took catches at gully to remove Butt, Mohammad Hafeez and Yasir Hameed.
Mortaza A couple of them were good takes. I was a regular in the slips and gully till 2007.
Inzamam came in at No. 4, with a further 199 required to win, but Hameed, Younis Khan, Farhan Adil and Latif fell on the third afternoon, and Pakistan slipped to 148 for 6 at stumps.
Butt We always believed that we were a better side, but I think we took Bangladesh too lightly. They had played very good cricket, better than our expectations.
Mahmud We were always positive in that Pakistan series, and it came from Dav. We tried to play attacking cricket. Dav used to say that we should learn, but make sure we keep attacking. The dressing-room mood was quite good.
Bangladesh, who had played well till then, began the fourth morning needing four wickets for their maiden Test win, while the home side required another 113, with only Inzamam as the last recognised batsman.
"When things were crumbling, the drowsy feeling went away and it was like the world was about to end. I was hiding in every corner thinking that this can't be possible and why on earth is it coming on my head?"
Hannan Sarkar, former Bangladesh batsman I couldn't sleep that night. Just before dawn I called my parents and some of my elders who usually woke up for the Fajr prayers. I asked them to pray for my team.
Bashar The ground was quite far from the hotel in Multan, and while on our way in the bus, I told the guy sitting next to me that we will either return in this bus laughing or crying.
Saqlain Mushtaq fell in the fifth over of the fourth morning, leaving Inzamam with three tailenders in whose company to pull off a chase that was looking impossible.
Mortaza Javed bhai ran in from the covers to sledge Saqlain Mushtaq. We tried everything to get wickets.
Mahmud When we took their seventh wicket, they still needed close to 100 runs. Inzamam was one of the best batsmen in the world but we were confident that we could remove the last three wickets.
Inzamam and Shabbir Ahmed added 41 for the eighth wicket but the partnership could have ended much earlier had Sarkar held on to a chance at second slip.
Sarkar My dropped catch was perhaps a turning point but we were expecting a wicket almost every ball.
Inzamam, meanwhile, was playing the innings of his life, having had a torrid time at the 2003 World Cup, where he made just 19 runs in six games. Until this innings - at his home ground - Inzamam had made just 88 runs in the Test series against Bangladesh.
Latif Inzamam wanted to retire after the 2003 World Cup but I convinced him to play. I fought hard with then PCB chairman, Gen Tauqir Zia. It was not like Inzamam was done with his cricket. He was a great player, so I knew he can do a lot for Pakistan and you can't remove him that way. Bad patches do come for every player, so I had to bring him back and it was worth it.
Mohammad Rafique took five wickets in the first innings, giving Bangladesh a big advantage
Mohammad Rafique took five wickets in the first innings, giving Bangladesh a big advantage © AFP
Bangladesh started to get desperate and that resulted in a number of appeals that were turned down by the umpires, particularly Asoka de Silva.
Bashar Everyone tried very hard. We appealed a lot in the second innings because we were very excited. We got a lot of warnings from the umpires, who were not as friendly as they usually were with us.
Mahmud Luck wasn't on our side. A few decisions didn't go our way and the umpiring was discussed heavily later on. We were angry at the umpires.
Pakistan needed 56 more to win when Shabbir, on 13, was given lbw in the 16th over of the day, but it was an important partnership in that situation. Four overs into his stay at the crease, Umar Gul could have been run out with Pakistan on 213 for 8.
Sarkar Rafique bhai's foot hit the stumps first when he was trying to complete the run-out. Maybe that run-out could have made a difference.
In the same over, Rafique stopped short of mankading Gul. He found instant support from his team-mates for his act.
Mahmud I think it was in the spirit of the game. We didn't want to win it that way. It would have been a stain on our win had Rafique completed the mankad. Rafique was brilliant in that game.
Mortaza I think Rafique bhai did the perfect thing by not mankading Gul. We were a struggling side back then and such an incident would have made life more difficult for us.
Inzamam farmed the strike with Gul, who had faced just one ball in Tests before this game.
Mortaza We solely targeted Umar Gul's wicket from the moment he walked out, which was a mistake. We could have pressed Inzamam harder.
"We relaxed against them since we had already won the series. But in cricket if you underestimate any team, you suffer exactly the way we did"
Yasir I remember I was napping and watching Inzamam bhai and Umar Gul batting from the dressing-room balcony. I never thought for a second that the game would come down to me in a very decisive moment. When things were crumbling, the drowsy feeling went away and it was like the world was about to end. I was hiding in every corner thinking that this can't be possible, and why on earth is it coming on my head? I didn't want to go through those tough moments but it had to happen.
Mahmud Everyone was so willing to win. Maybe the dropped catch, the absence of Mashrafe, and there was something strange about the wicket in the fourth morning too. A lot of things happened that ultimately went against us.
Gul finally fell to a run-out with four to win. Bangladesh still hoped for the last wicket, especially after seeing Yasir walk out to bat. If farming the strike with Gul was a given, Inzamam now needed Yasir to potentially play out four balls in the 91st over, bowled by Mahmud.
Butt We all felt assured with Inzamam bhai out there. We knew he could get us across the line but the only worry was the last wicket, of Yasir Ali. He was on debut and probably it was really tough for Inzi not only to rotate the strike but to keep him away from the strike. We all got on our toes and felt worried that this might be touch and go.
Rashid Latif: "Inzamam wanted to retire after the 2003 World Cup but I convinced him to play"
Rashid Latif: "Inzamam wanted to retire after the 2003 World Cup but I convinced him to play" © AFP
Yasir played out three deliveries before scampering a single to put Inzamam back on strike. It was now or never for both the batsman and Bangladesh.
Yasir Javed Miandad was constantly talking to me and advising me what to do and what not to. I was already in shock and things were going against my will. I found myself in the middle of hell. I remember when I took my guard, my legs were shivering, but the moment I scored that one run, the pressure released instantly.
Latif I never felt defeated because there was one wicket left and they had to get that to win. Inzamam was there for a reason and he proved how big he is. He may have played some of the best innings in his career but this one was outstanding and I rate it very high.
Inzamam swivel-pulled Mahmud to fine leg, where Manjural Islam couldn't stop the ball from going to the boundary. It was the second Test Pakistan had won by a one-wicket margin; Inzamam had been key back in 1994 too. He punched the air several times, in a break from his usual subdued celebrations.
Mahmud We lost a game that we should have won. We had heard that if Bangladesh had won that game, Inzamam might have retired from international cricket. But he was outstanding in that innings. His reaction after winning the game was something different too. I had never seen him celebrate like that before.
Butt Inzi bhai handled the tail well, and that really impacted his career as he was not in form. It really turned out to be great for him. He was a great batsman and that innings was one hell of a glimpse of his career.
Latif Had we lost against Bangladesh at that time, it could have had a very bad impact on Pakistan cricket. Everyone was sceptical about losing that game [against Bangladesh] in the 1999 World Cup, so it was very important for Pakistan to win that game in Multan.
For Bangladesh it was the first time that they had pushed a higher-ranked Test side right to the brink, but it ended in heartbreak. .
Mortaza I think almost everyone was crying. Ashraful cried in the bathroom. The environment suddenly turned sour. We knew we would win but we couldn't finish it off.
Mahmud We didn't talk for a long time after that game. Everyone cried in the dressing room. I couldn't stop myself from getting emotional too. We couldn't believe that we had lost that game. Even before that last ball, we thought we would take the last wicket.
Sarkar We had played Test cricket for three years, so had we won, it would have shifted Bangladesh cricket's momentum instantly. We got that shift finally around 2006-07, but it could have come in Multan.
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