Captain Cool takes on the 'Wall' in Pakistan
by AFP

Player:Inzamam-ul-Haq, RS Dravid
Event:India in Pakistan 2005/06

DateLine: 10th January 2006


The Test series between India and Pakistan starting here on Friday will be played on a knife's edge, but that is unlikely to ruffle the rival captains.


Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq and his Indian counterpart Rahul Dravid are not known to betray theatrical or aggressive gestures. Instead, they let their bats do the talking.


Appearances, however, can be deceptive as Inzamam and Dravid are both tough and ruthless when it comes to serving their teams' interests.


Inzamam has been learning and improving with every match since taking over the captaincy in 2003, leading Pakistan to remarkable success over Ashes-winning England at home last month.


Critics concede that Inzamam has played a crucial role in transforming a disjointed lot into a fighting unit.


"Inzi's captaincy has been a revelation," said former Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis. "All the credit for Pakistan's success in the last few years has to go to him."


Added Pakistani great Imran Khan: "Inzamam is in a terrific form and as a captain you need to lead from the front to get the best out of your team.


Dravid, on the other hand, is nicknamed the "Wall" as much for his sound batting technique as for his unflappable temperament.


Dravid replaced Sourav Ganguly as captain less than four months ago, but has already made it evident that he has his own way of leading the team to success.


"People have different ways of showing aggression," said the 32-year-old Indian captain.


"It does not mean that if you do not show aggression that you are not aggressive. Each one leads in his own style and each one does things differently.


"If you have to be successful, you have got to try and be yourself and not imitate others."


Dravid has proved his mental toughness by helping India tide over a crisis in different conditions with his solid batting. He is one of the few batsmen who are prolific both at home as abroad.


The ever-consistent Dravid played 94 Tests in a row before missing the third and final match against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad last month due to a stomach ailment.


The stylish middle-order batsman has scored 8,003 runs in Tests with 20 centuries.


Like Dravid, Inzamam is also his team's key batsman and can always be relied upon in a crisis. Inzamam leads from the front, having already shown that the burden of captaincy has not affected his batting.


"Inzamam and Dravid are both respected in the dressing room," said Imran. "Dravid is wiser but needs time to establish as captain. Inzamam has transformed into a very good captain in the last one year."


Inzamam was on song against England, scoring 431 runs in five Test innings with two hundreds and three half-centuries to average a whopping 107.75.


The burly Pakistani captain may be slow in running between wickets, but more than makes up for this flaw with his batting which is all elegance and timing.


Inzamam, with 8,052 runs in 105 Tests, is Pakistan's highest century-maker with 24 tons.


The third Test series between the arch-rivals in two years gets underway at the Gaddafi stadium here on Friday. The second Test will be played in Faisalabad from January 21 and the third in Karachi from January 29.


India won both the Test and one-day series in Pakistan in 2004, while Pakistan returned the complement on the Indian tour last year by drawing the Test series 1-1 and winning the one-dayers 4-2.

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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