No. 35 August 16, 2009

A win in the dark

Thorpe steers the ship home in the gloom
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Karachi, 11 December 2000

The azaan had already sounded, and the sun had sunk far beneath the Karachi horizon, when Graham Thorpe played the chinese cut off Saqlain Mushtaq, triggering mass jubilation from England's cricketers, not to mention the small knot of fans - all 12 of them - who had clung on in the fast-fading light.

It had been an astonishing sprint to the finish, in a series that England - under the emotional, attritional leadership of Nasser Hussain - had paced to perfection. With the side in a transitional phase after the serial failures of the 1990s, Hussain's mantra was "stay in the contest at all costs". He realised that, before England could learn how to win, they first had to learn how to not lose.

Consequently the series was a drudge for 14 days out of 15. Thorpe epitomised England's approach with a century in Lahore, which contained just two boundaries, but their refusal to buckle put the pressure back on the hosts. On the final morning in Karachi they capitulated, losing their last seven wickets for 80, leaving England needing 176 to win in a minimum of 44 overs.

Pakistan, however, scoffed at the prospect of defeat. Moin Khan slowed the over-rate to a crawl, knowing how swiftly the light would fade, but the umpires, Steve Bucknor and Mohammad Nazir, refused to bow to such antics.

As Waqar Younis hurtled through the gloom, a young Matthew Hoggard manned the sightscreen at the pavilion end, to speed the game along as Thorpe and Graeme Hick went about adding 91 in 21 overs. England's win was their first in Pakistan for 39 years, and it was Pakistan's first defeat in Karachi.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine