England win historic victory in Karachi
England have ended their triumphant tour of Pakistan with an historic six-wicket win in the third and final Test. Their magnificent victory, late on the last day, in the Karachi dusk, was achieved with a resplendent performance that kept the sparse but tense crowd on the edge of their seat.
It was a win that will remain in the memory, not just because England emerged victorious from the series but, indeed, for the circumstances in which Nasser Hussain led his team to triumph with Graham Thorpe paving the way. This was Pakistan's first ever defeat in the 46-year history of the National Stadium in Karachi.
As England's batsmen gradually approached their target, the light began to fade rapidly but having set their minds on going for the runs rather than play for safety they bravely pushed ahead despite the fast bowler Waqar Younis being brought into the attack.
England began their second innings requiring 176 runs for victory, with 35 minutes of the second session and the whole post-tea session to come, and with a mandatory fifteen overs in the last hour to be bowled. It gave England 44 overs, which worked out to a rate of four an over.
Michael Atherton and Marcus Trescothick immediately went on the attack, with Atherton in particular played attacking strokes, keeping up with the run rate until, on 26, he became the first of Saqlain Mushtaq's three victims. From 38 for one, England were quickly 51 for two with Trescothick pulling Saqlain high to mid-wicket for a catch.
He had made 24 and England were still well up with the clock after eleven overs. But with Alec Stewart, promoted up the order, falling to a catch behind the stumps for five it seemed England may fall behind. They were 65 for three after eighteen overs.
Thereafter came a brilliant 91-run partnership between Thorpe and Graeme Hick. Together they picked up the rate of scoring with cleverly placed shots and well-taken singles, rather than going unnecessarily for big hitting. Their running between the wickets was superb and caused disarray in the Pakistan captain's fielding placing. It was a brave effort considering the ever worsening conditions, as Pakistan attempted to reduce the over rate to just nine an hour, and so reduce England's chance of finishing the game in decent light.
They found the gaps in the field, rarely missing the opportunity of a run and yet playing no risky strokes. When Waqar finally bowled Hick for forty from 65 balls, Thorpe had just reached his half-century. They had put England well on the victory path.
Nasser Hussain faced only eight balls in making six, but stayed with Thorpe to see him hit the winning two runs for victory. Thorpe finished unbeaten on 64 from 97 balls before the two grabbed stumps for souvenirs and ran off the field, to the cheers of a small but jubilant contingent of supporters.
Earlier, Pakistan had struggled in their second innings with England's bowlers applying relentless pressure. Resuming on 71 for three they lost the remaining seven wickets for an addition of only 87 runs. Three wickets had fallen before lunch and four in a little over an hour into the second session.
Ashley Giles finished with three for 38 from 27 overs, a new record of 17 wickets for England in a Test series in Pakistan, and Darren Gough had three for 30. It had been a most commendable bowling performance and a joint team effort in this memorable England victory. They had waited long enough for a series win in Pakistan, the last time was back in 1961.
Atherton was awarded the man of the match award for his first-innings century, while Yousuf Youhana took the man of the series award for his consistent batting.
"We weren't in a great position after the first day, but the way we came back and won the game was an incredible achievement," Atherton said.