Fiery Flintoff sets England's tour hopes ablaze
An awesome display by England's batsmen achieved a magnificent five-wicket victory, with 16 balls to spare, over Pakistan in the tour's first One Day International.
In the presence of a sell-out crowd, England's middle order, led by a belligerent innings from Andy Flintoff, overcame the stifling heat of Karachi to dominate the Pakistan attack and send the home team to their fifth successive limited-overs defeat at the National Stadium.
England passed their previous highest successful score batting second - 286 for four against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1986. It was also the fourth highest total by a side batting second in one-day international history.
Chasing a daunting 305 for victory and having lost both opening batsmen with just 13 on the board, the England captain Nasser Hussain and Graeme Hick took control, with Pakistan's bowlers making little impression on them.
Hussain, back in form after a miserable summer, was first to his fifty from 59 balls and Hick followed even faster, needing only 48 balls. his half century included a magnificent straight six off Saqlain. They rapidly brought the hundred up in the seventeenth over.
The breakthrough that Pakistan urgently needed came after the third wicket stand had reached 114 - from 107 balls - with Hick caught behind for 56. Hussain's innings didn't last much longer. On 73, he went forward to leg spinner Mushtaq Ahmed, missed and Moin Khan was quick to whip off the bails.
But on 164 for four, a brilliant partnership developed between Graham Thorpe and man-of-the-match Flintoff. Flintoff reached fifty from just 39 balls. His big hitting included two sixes, both over mid-wicket and the next over brought Thorpe's half-century (56 balls). As the pressure mounted on Pakistan, their fielding became sloppy and the bowling more wayward.
The big Lancastrian finally went for 84 from only 60 balls after bringing up the three hundred and featuring in a 138-run stand - remarkably from only 102 balls - with Thorpe who remained unbeaten on 64.
Earlier, Pakistan's strong batting line-up, led by Inzamam-ul-Haq and Abdur Razzaq later on, had posted an excellent total. After deciding to make first use of a pitch totally devoid of grass, they began aggressively but were three wickets down for 97 before a century partnership between Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana, from 130 balls, once again picked up the tempo.
Inzamam was in excellent form, driving elegantly on either side of the wicket and cutting with perfect timing. His 71 came from 87 balls. When Inzamam became Ealham's second victim, caught at a squarish mid-wicket, Razzaq led Pakistan's scoring.
Along with Moin Khan, he added 48 in just 27 balls for the sixth wicket and while the tail-enders came and went quickly, Razzaq scored freely. He got to his half-century from only 29 balls and continued his hard hitting to reach 75 not out from as few as 40 balls. It included three sixes and five fours.
England's bowlers had conceded 106 runs in the last ten overs. But by the end of the match it was the Pakistan bowlers who were made to suffer.