Writers on the best day, session or passage of play they've seen live

Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Multan, 2005-06

A kind of frenzy

When Pakistan switched themselves on and turned, all guns blazing, on England

Osman Samiuddin

December 5, 2010

Comments: 50 | Text size: A | A

Shoaib Akhtar's yorker is too good for Ashley Giles, Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Multan, November 16, 2005
Shoaib v Giles: irresistible force meets fragile object © AFP
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Players/Officials: Shoaib Akhtar | Waqar Younis
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Pakistan

Almost nobody was in the stadium in Multan, and this during the winter, and tickets were free. England were in town and this was the first full Test series I was covering as a Cricinfo employee.

England had dominated much of the Test and they needed 174 to win on the last day with nine wickets in hand. Recent conquerors of Australia and participants in the greatest series ever, the world's best allrounder and best pace attack, the most exciting new batsman in the game - not much should've gone wrong.

There was, over the ground and the city, that wintry haze of southern Punjab, hiding within it a chill and dust.

It was Waqar Younis' birthday, or at least his official one, which said that he had just turned 34. That meant he'd retired at 32. He'd played first for Multan, born nearby in Vehari. Something, we should've known, was up.

I'd never seen first-hand the kind of collapse Waqar and Wasim Akram so often instigated. And it is something else altogether, live, to watch Pakistan do this kind of thing. A kind of frenzy grips everyone, spectators and players, and it moves you inside. Suddenly Pakistan channel into one session, one passage of play, everything, every ounce of energy and thought.

Shoaib Akhtar became swifter than he had been, crashing into Ashley Giles' stumps at 94mph. Danish Kaneria, for a session, became Warne, bowling Shaun Udal from round the wicket with a googly that turned in as much as a Murali offbreak. Fielding became sharper, catches were held, and controlling the uncontrollable was Inzamam-ul-Haq, every inch the man of the house in his hometown. Kaneria was installed at one end and three fast bowlers rotated at the other. In just over 30 overs England went from 64 for 1 to 175 all out.

Bob Woolmer was around as coach and was building some trust with Inzi. Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were just about to enter their golden phases. Pakistan was buzzing. A year later Darrell Hair and The Oval happened. Four years after that I watched Pakistan implode in a chase in Sydney and again something inside me shook.

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo. This article was first published in the Wisden Cricketer magazine

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Posted by   on (December 8, 2010, 7:51 GMT)

More matches, less memories, less styles! These days hardly any match details can be remmembered! Whats the future of cricket! Its getting difficult to evaluate a team's consistency and style of playing! Like Aussies always play aggressively

Posted by   on (December 7, 2010, 11:54 GMT)

@ mak 102480.. tait plays test cricket??? :P the thing is he only played 3 tests...took 5 wickets..n retired... so who is more brittle??? n comparing him with brett lee...he has avg of 25 in test to brett's 30 ..... So again who is better???

Posted by   on (December 7, 2010, 10:32 GMT)

Shoaib, a Treat to watch always

Posted by The_Dynamite_Kid on (December 7, 2010, 10:01 GMT)

@pakspin - Along with being the fastest bowler, Shoaib is also the biggest disgrace in the history of the game, an embarrassment to all cricketers present or past.

Posted by DARKLORD91 on (December 7, 2010, 8:56 GMT)

this performance by pakistan was like a necessary evil i mean like pakistan has won matches on individual brilliance more offten than any other team how often have we heard terms brilliant shoaib excellent gul amazing razzzaq but am yet to see a collective team effort on a regular basis that allows pakistan to win matches

Posted by aahd81 on (December 7, 2010, 8:19 GMT)

Osman, I was expecting some details when I clicked here...we all know how Pakistan play, I was expecting the joy of reliving the moment with your words. Instead, what I got was a little rhetoric that described the TEAM outlook and not the event. And I got a bunch of numbers that just don't have the same impact as a descriptive narrative would have had. This is not criticism though, just pointing out what would have been a better read, IMHO.

Posted by Chona on (December 7, 2010, 8:12 GMT)

@mak102480 The point is Shoaib is and was fastest ever bowler to have bowled... I think Tait is more brittle ....he has even retired from tests....!!! so point is Shoaib is fastest....simple...

Posted by   on (December 7, 2010, 6:03 GMT)

I think people seem to forget that its quite a feat of fitness if you can consistently bowl in the 90s mph. Anything more than ten years of cricket on THAT speed is an achievement in itself. So people should stop criticizing his fitness issues. Shoaib's second achievement is his ability to CONTROL the bowl in the corridor of 90-100mph; much easier said than done if u ask me. Many can ball fast but who can bowl as fast and as ACCURATELY as shoaib akhtar? A third thing, I want people to count the number of test matches Pakistan won before headingley leeds 2010 AFTER the retirement of wasim and waqar, in which shoaib akhtar was missing? Since 2003, WITH HIM we won 9 lost 7 at W/L 1.28, WITHOUT HIM we won 10 lost 19 at W/L 0.52...

Posted by pakwellwisher on (December 7, 2010, 6:01 GMT)

From now on we will see this batting collapse only from the pakistan team.hahahaha

Posted by   on (December 7, 2010, 5:37 GMT)

wish pakistan become top team again.

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Osman SamiuddinClose
Osman Samiuddin Osman spent the first half of his life pretending he discovered reverse swing with a tennis ball half-covered with electrical tape. The second half of his life was spent trying, and failing, to find spiritual fulfillment in the world of Pakistani advertising and marketing. The third half of his life will be devoted to convincing people that he did discover reverse swing. And occasionally writing about cricket. And learning mathematics.

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