‘Inzy swansong could distract Pak’

Lahore, October 6:

South African captain Graeme Smith said Inzamam-ul-Haq’s swansong in international cricket could distract Pakistan in their must-win second Test starting in Lahore on Monday.

The tourists are 1-0 up in the two-match series after convincingly beating Pakistan by 160 runs on Friday in Karachi despite a pitch that was tailor-made for the home spinners.

The two teams line up for the final Test with Pakistan bolstered by the inclusion of former skipper Inzamam and keen to square the series. Inzamam has announced he will retire from Test cricket and the Lahore Test will be his last.

“It certainly can be I guess,” Smith said, when asked if young captain, Shoaib Malik, could be distracted by having his predecessor in the team. “They have a young captain and how he is going to manage that is going to be key for him. It can put a lot of pressure on him,” said Smith.

“Inzamam carries a huge aura around him in this set-up, which I have noticed playing against Pakistan in the last two years. It will be key how he (Malik) handles it,” said Smith.

Pakistan also hope Mohammad Yousuf will return after pulling out of the first Test. Smith said how Inzamam and Yousuf fit into Pakistan’s squad will be crucial to the outcome of the match. “Their records are world class, but how they fit back into the set-up is a question mark, how much cricket they have played is another question and what is happening to the pitch in Lahore is going to be another issue,” he said.

“But it’s for them to worry. We need to go from strength to strength and we have given ourselves a wonderful opportunity to win a series in the subcontinent,” said Smith, whose country won a three-Test series here 1-0 in 1997.