England beat Pakistan by six wickets

Samiul Hasan

December 12, 2000

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Home team's 34-match unbeaten record shattered: Karachi, Dec 11: Pakistan plunged to depths of despair under darkness when England earned a hard fought six-wicket victory in the third and final cricket Test to clinch the three-match series 1-0 and a cash award of $10,000.

Under extremely poor light with street lamps on, England achieved the victory target of 176 with six wickets and 15 balls of the mandatory overs remaining.

Earlier, Pakistan resuming on the final morning at 71 for three were bundled out for 158 with the last six wickets falling for a mere 30 runs.

Pakistan captain Moin Khan made several valient attempts to appeal against poor light and in the process received an official warning by West Indian Steve Bucknor as the match finished at 5.55pm and before an empty stadium as the handful of spectators had left the venue for Iftar (time for breaking fast).

Moin argued with the Jamaician, Buknor, that the fielders were unable to pick the ball due to poor visibility though the batsmen continued to throw the bat around and much to their luck, always connected them properly.

The victory ended Pakistan's 34-match unbeaten record at the National Stadium and five-series winning sequence against the Englishmen. For the proud Nasser Hussain's men, it was their first series triumph over Pakistan in Pakistan since 1961 when Ted Dexter's party defeated Imtiaz Ahmad's men 1-0.

It was also Pakistan's fourth defeat in a trot on home surface after they lost to Australia and Zimbabwe in 1998 and then to Sri Lanka earlier this year in February-March.

The man who made the difference in the end was 32- year-old Graham Thorpe who played the innings of his life while scoring a match-winning unbeaten 64 from 97 balls with the aid of four boundaries.

Together with Worcestershire's Graeme Hick, Thorpe feature in a 91-run fourth wicket partnership in 102 minutes after Saqlain Mushtaq had struck thrice in quick succession to leave England reeling at 65 for three in 17 overs.

Hick, whose previous best in the series was 18, scored a rapid 65-ball 40 before he was castled by Waqar Younis. Nevertheless, the batsman might have just managed to save his sinking career and convince the selectors to retain him for the series against Sri Lanka for which the England team arrives there in February next year.

The two batsmen worked the ball in gaps and kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos. There was no urgency in their batting as they chalked out their strategy to perfection and stuck to it. For a second it looked England had lost their way when they could score only 40 from 15 overs between overs 15 and 30 before accelerating the scoring rate.

It was also an excellent bit of captaincy by Nasser Hussain when he promoted an out-of-form Hick ahead of him. It was a gamble not many captains would have played. But for the confidence the captain has in the abilities of the Zimbabweborn batsman, it worked.

There can't be any two opinions that England were a much better team than Pakistan who did nothing but tried to play game of words by making big claims. The tourists were composed, united, ambitious and determined and continued the good work they had started back home five months ago while defeating the West Indies 3-1 for the first time in 31 years.

The biggest strength of the Englishmen was their conviction that they could do the impossible this time. On alien conditions and playing against a much talented opposition, the tourists played the entire series without shuffling their team while Pakistan made mind-boggling and ill-planned changes after changes in persuit of finding a winning combination.

It can't be more embarrassing and humiliating for the Pakistanis to suffer defeat when they prepared wickets supportive for the spinners in an effort to exploit England's vulerability. In the end, it was Pakistan that was left needing to carry out soul-searching and probably an overhauling because some of the players just don't deserve to be in this trade.

It is also a moment of concern and requires indepth ananlysis as to why the Pakistan team is lion aboard and lamb at home.

There can't be more disappointing defeat to a team so promising and highly-rated as Pakistan to lose a Test after scoring 292 for three at stumps on the first day and then accumulating 405 in the first innings.

Without taking any credit from England in this Test, Pakistan's batting proved disgusting, their bowling pathetic, fielding horrendous and Moin Khan's captaincy and wicketkeeping far from satisfactory. Saqlain Mushtaq picked up three wickets but conceded 64 runs from 17 overs.

Moin Khan showed that he needed a lot of experience before he can command his men in the field when he made senseless bowling changes. He under-bowled Danish Kaneria, the specialist wrist spinner, over-bowled Shahid Afridi and brought in Waqar Younis too late in the day to scare the England batsmen under rapidly fading light.

While fingers can be rightly pointed at Moin Khan's inability to handle pressure situations, there is no explanation for a disappointing batting display in daylight. Yousuf Youhana, on whom Pakistan's hopes rested, was out hooking shortly before lunch and was soon joined the dressing room by Salim Elahi (37), Abdur Razzaq (1) and Moin Khan (14).

Nevertheless, Youhana finished with 343 runs from four innings to earn the Man-of-the-Series. Michael Atherton, who played a masterly innings of 125 during his 579 minutes of vigil in the first innings, was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.

Ashley Giles, on his maiden tour with the England team, finished with three for 38 from 37 overs to finish the series with 17 wickets and bettering Nick Cook's record of 14 wickets in Pakistan. Darren Gough bowled his heart out to end up with three for 30.

It was an extraordinary conclusion to the series being played after 13 years. While the England team will fly out on Tuesday with their heads high, Pakistan cricket managers will be left doing a lot of home work and planning for the team's next assignment which is against New Zealand in New Zealand in February.

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