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Exit Inzamam, the modest legend

The end was not what had been anticipated, especially the hasty manner in which it arrived. Ultimately, it did not matter as Pakistan cricket bade a teary, emotional farewell to Inzamam-ul-Haq at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

The board renamed an enclosure in his honour and a brief visual presentation of his achievements was shown on the big screen. As he said goodbye to "my boys", his successor as captain, Shoaib Malik, broke down. He wasn't alone.

Javed Miandad's position as Pakistan's record Test run-scorer stays intact, just, and though Inzamam regretted not breaking it, he had 16 satisfied years to look back at.

"I wouldn't say my career was zabardast (extraordinary), but I am generally happy with it," said Inzamam with typical modesty. "I wanted to break the record but Javed bhai was a much better player than me. Even if I broke it, he has played a huge part in the runs I got."

His last innings lasted all of two balls; a first-ball clip to square leg suggested something special, a second-ball dance, swipe and walk back to the pavilion told another story entirely. He did it, he said, because he wanted to win a Test for Pakistan one last time.

"I wanted to play a memorable knock, I wanted to play aggressively because that could have won the match for Pakistan," he said. "It's difficult to describe my emotions when I walked in. There was a lot of pressure and though I've hit a number of deliveries like this for sixes, today in the battle of batsman and bowler, the bowler won.

Because he is now an ex-Pakistani cricketer and there is some previous, he was asked the question that is asked of all of them: Will you reconsider your decision to retire? "No chance. The youngsters are doing well, they did well at the Twenty20. It is the right time to go and I wanted to do it at home." The youngsters are doing well, they did well at the Twenty20. It is the right time to go and I wanted to do it at home

His last press conference was also in keeping with most of his others, low-key with the standard wit. He was asked about the most difficult bowlers he faced: "Paul Harris was the most difficult...today." Will he play in the ICL or the IPL, asked another journalist. "I'll play for both, thanks." Who was his favourite captain? "If I say one the other will get angry."

With the humour, there was sadness, at the prospect of not doing what he has done for the last 16 years. "I am sad. I love this game and have been in it for so long. I've been thinking about my last five days, my last three days, my last hour so much. It's difficult to explain the emotions, but it's sad."

If the various leagues are out of the equation, there is no immediate cricket on the cards. He is not planning an academy just yet. Instead, he wants to go down the route his first captain Imran Khan did after he retired. Like Imran, Inzamam is building a hospital in Multan, his hometown, which is almost ready. "I have more time now, so I will concentrate on that."

And on that quiet note, he slipped away from Pakistan cricket.



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