No. 35

A win in the dark

Thorpe steers the ship home in the gloom

Andrew Miller

August 16, 2009

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England captain Nasser Hussain (L) and Graham Thorpe (R) rush to the English dressing room after their nail bitting victory by six wickets against Pakistan on the last day of the third cricket Test match at the National Stadium in Karachi, 11 December 2000. England clinched a historic series victory, snatching a stunning win with just minutes to spare in the third and final Test. England's six-wicket triumph makes them the first English side to win a Test in Pakistan since 1962 and end the hosts' unbeaten record in 34 encounters.
After dusk, the dawn Aamir Qureshi / © AFP
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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

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007

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