Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Multan, 2005-06 December 5, 2010

A kind of frenzy

When Pakistan switched themselves on and turned, all guns blazing, on England
50

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • 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

  • 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???

  • on December 7, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Shoaib, a Treat to watch always

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • pakwellwisher on December 7, 2010, 6:01 GMT

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

  • on December 7, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    wish pakistan become top team again.

  • 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

  • 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???

  • on December 7, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Shoaib, a Treat to watch always

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • pakwellwisher on December 7, 2010, 6:01 GMT

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

  • on December 7, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    wish pakistan become top team again.

  • on December 7, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    Yeah baby...fighters to the very end..Pakistan Zindabad!

  • knowledge_eater on December 7, 2010, 2:20 GMT

    Yeh Akhtar was/is special bowler, btw. I checked the player of the match, sigh. He just needed to wait longer and play proper cricket, he could have it all glory and blings.. Sigh..

  • Zahidsaltin on December 7, 2010, 1:21 GMT

    Let me here remember a magician, another who was the fastest ever to play a test, and the third a rising star who lost it to stupidity. Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Zahid and Mohammad Amer........ They were going to be right up there among Fazal, Imran, Wasim, Waqar and Shoaib but somethings are never ment to be as we see them. Pakistan needs a new hero, can it be Sadaf Hussain??

  • mak102480 on December 7, 2010, 0:10 GMT

    @pakspin: then how come he does not play test matches - the real deal? too brittle i suppose.

  • on December 6, 2010, 21:56 GMT

    One of the best test matches Pakistan have played. Proper Pakistani flavor in it, every move worked their way, n Shoaib Akhter being at his destructive best, bowled delivery of the year to send Giles back. All in all, a great advertisment for Test cricket, that's somehting we call Cricket.

  • majid7 on December 6, 2010, 18:29 GMT

    I came from Sweden on family holiday, and watched the match all 5 days in stadium, it was fun. just before coming tomultan i was in UK in the summer 2005 to watch england draw at oval to clich the ashes. Pakistan did really well to restrict the ashes winner.........

  • pakspin on December 6, 2010, 15:57 GMT

    Did you guys see Shoaib bowling at 96MPH vs Aus in England in t20? That was truly something else..the jealous commentators tried to ignore the speed gun, as shoaib was making Tait look like a snail, and at his peak, he was faster. Just amazing how someone can come back and bowl at 96MPH like its a normal thing to do. Shoib is the fastest bolwer of all time..no contenders..his comback speed is twic as much as India's fastest ever.

  • on December 6, 2010, 15:50 GMT

    @uheaven - no he didn't .. End of Day 4 ENG were 24/1 (AJ Strauss 7*, IR Bell 12*) - the target was 174 runs for the final day. @obsidian - lol! the innings target was 198 of which 174 more on the final day. The innings ended at 175 all out - which means they fell 23 short. The best thing about this series was Shoaib Akhtar - the speed was always there, but this was the series where the smarts came to the fore: the cunning slower balls, reversing toe-crushers, cutters of varying velocity and conventional swing. All this and he remained fit throughout the series and contributed with the bat as well.

  • Morfi on December 6, 2010, 13:13 GMT

    @ Obsidian and Uheavan - guys there is no mistake. The article is clear that they needed 174 and 9 wickets remaining ON THE LAST DAY. Of course if they had lost a wicket, they would have played and made some runs on the 4th day. The article again says in the end they went from "64 for 1" to 175 all out. I guess you need to concentrate a bit more while reading....

    Great article osman. We continue to wait for such inspirational performances from Pak as they are very hard to come by, but a sight to remember when they do. Hope Shoaib Akhter could have gained the fitness and sense he shows now, 5-6 years earlier.....

  • on December 6, 2010, 12:14 GMT

    Target on 'day 5' was 175 with 9 wickets remaining

  • on December 6, 2010, 11:57 GMT

    @obsidian He meant England needed 174 runs to win on the last day. They got 197 runs lead, they made 22 runs on the day before and they got 175 all out which gave Pakistan a 22 run win.

  • adnanamjad on December 6, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    @obsidian: England need 174 more to win on the last day. They had ended day 4 at 24-1. England were chasing 198 total.

  • gujratwalla on December 6, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    This was a match which demonstrated the volatile nature of Pakistan to the full!England were in control of the match right up to the last morning but when Kaneria got the breakthrough England collapsed dramatically in face of some inspired fast bowling from Shoaib Akhtar and again Kaneria.It is beyond logic why Kaneria has not reached his peak today as his ability warranted.Definetly one of the most memorable Test wins for Pakistan.More is the pity.

  • faforce on December 6, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    He said the target on last day of the match was 174 with 9 wickets in hand.

  • ROLAYH on December 6, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    Also I think (not sure) it was the first test series where Shoaib Akhter played without getting unfit and hence he played three tests on trot...

  • ROLAYH on December 6, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    I remember that series for a new & improved Shoaib Akhter, he took many wickets with his then newly developed slower ball. Also it was the first series in which Yusuf came of age, after his conversion to Islam. Alas it was the last peak Pakistan had as far as test cricket is concerned... :-(

  • sachsandy on December 6, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    @ everyone: what Usman said was that 174 was needed on the last day with nine wickets in hand............he didn't say that the entire target was 174........England had already batted a bit towards the end of Day4

  • pakwellwisher on December 6, 2010, 5:34 GMT

    Yeah well those days are gone and look at the present its all gloom and doom.

  • SurlyCynic on December 5, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    Giles wasn't just a fragile object, he was a fragile object who couldn't turn the ball but called himself a 'spinner'. A fragile object who couldn't hit in front of square but called himself an 'allrounder'. Deluded.

  • smalishah84 on December 5, 2010, 19:52 GMT

    no better sight in world cricket than the pakistani fast bowlers on song.

  • on December 5, 2010, 19:39 GMT

    I remember that match Osman - Guardian had an headline of "MULT-DOWN" for English batting !

  • donovancarragher on December 5, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    Thanks for a good article which captures the moment very well. I remember following this game in mexico via cricinfo. As an england fan I was very disappointed - but impressed with the pakistani performance. I hope Pak will be able to hit these heights again in future. Cricket will be the richer for it.

  • on December 5, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    I was actually at the game when the carnage took place. I had originally come to Multan from Sydney, Australia to attend a friends wedding and had just enough spare time to catch the final days play. I remember meeting Andrew Miller on board my bus to Multan where we discussed the series, his background etc.. After a slow start to the day, Danish ripped through the middle order with Shoaib wrapping up the tail. The team huddle in the middle of the ground at the fall of Harmison's wicket was a sight to see as was the energy and excitement amongst the small crowd. Very few gave Pakistan a chance coming into the final day, hence the small turn out, however, in the end it was quite the finish!

  • obsidian on December 5, 2010, 12:05 GMT

    you said they neede 174 to win....and they got 175 all out??!!

  • on December 5, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    best team of pakistan at that time...... and there was a commitment to play as a unit!!!!! Hope that commitment to play as a unit flourishes in this current team!!!

  • on December 5, 2010, 9:44 GMT

    One of the best games Pakistan has been involved in (the other one is the 3rd Test at Bangalore which comes to mind). I remember the frenzy and the buzz while watching every ball on the tele. Well written.

  • uheaven on December 5, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    I believe you made a mistake. The target seems to be 198...

  • itsyasir on December 5, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    And it was sort of repeated in the third test at Lahore again where on a very flat track Shoaib utilized the slower ones beautifully.

  • Bilal_Choudry on December 5, 2010, 7:19 GMT

    oh yeah i remember this spell

  • on December 5, 2010, 7:07 GMT

    there are few better things to watch in cricket than on song pakistani team.....

    sad that it happens few and far between....

  • vichan on December 5, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    England were hot favourites going into this series, with the expectation that they would sneak victory in Pakistan on the way to replacing Australia as the number one Test team at the time. Of course, it was more a case of Pakistan being the first in a number of steps down for England on the way to the nadir of the 2007 Ashes. A good example of a great team reaching it's zenith with victory over Australia and failing to go on, much like South Africa in more recent times.

    In many ways, this series the beginning of the end for both of these teams. Although in hindsight, England with the player resources at its disposal and sound infrastructure has been able to come back towards the top of the world game relatively quickly. However the future of Pakistani cricket is very uncertain still, and it remains to be seen how long it will take for that country to be challenging for the upper echelons once more.

  • on December 5, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    well wel wel....i do remember dat day infact i was present in dat spectecular stadium ov MULTAN...I did bunk 4m my college(punjab college)..went there wd frnds(sherry,hammad)....loved to watch pak playing like dis.....cant eva 4get Gile's stupms flying all over.....awesome match...awesome memories...!!!

  • smjr on December 5, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Could any one knows why Shabbir Ahmad is not get selected in Pakistan team ? Is it due to his bowling action or some thing else.

  • on December 5, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    This was a great test match. Shoaib v Giles was absolutely amazing. It was one of his best deliveries ever. And that too on his comeback. Though you forgot to mention Salman Butt's performance. The tour of India a few months back and this series were the best under Inzamam's captaincy.

  • smjr on December 5, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    It is very sad that Pakistan has abundant of fast bowlers in 70s 80s 90s who single handedly run through opposing batting line up but now we are searching for them. Umar gul, Tanvir, Wahab are very good but they have to bring their act together for success. In my opinion Wahab seems to be better bowler than Aamir, for whom lot of hype is created, similarly Tanvir seems to be better bowler on batting friendly conditions compared to Asif. Tanvir has better pace than Asif. No body forget what impression Asif and Amir made on Trott and Broad at Lords when England were 90-7. The only big loss to Pakistan during the spot fixing saga is Kaneria. I have earlier said that we may try Shoiab Akhtar in test matches against South Africa. He may bowl at least 12 overs in an inning but nobody knows the worth of these overs. He is the bowlers who generate unusual pace when the bowl strike the pitch. Who knows he may takes 2 to 3 good wickets quickly and that could make a huge difference.

  • Force01 on December 5, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    It was this series that ushered in the decline of the class of '05. MBEs brought down to earth by a talented albeit underachieving Pakistan team. England have never been the same force again. But wait...they are 500 odd for 4 with a lead of 300+ under their belt against the Aussies in Adelaide. Reason enough to dish out another round of MBEs?

  • on December 5, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    Those were the good old days. Back in the 4th grade, i would be alone at home and have to stay up till 3 am to watch sky sports match highlights on FSC as they didn't show any cricket in the US. Inzamam was a fantastic player, man do i miss him. and Danish Kaneria, Shaoib Akhtar, and Mohammad yousuf all at the twilight of their careers..that era of pakistan cricket is history...imagine it was just 5 years ago they had such a formidable team...I miss cricket being played in Pakistan, especially those matches held in the winter time where all the spectators were wearing sweaters and everything was real hazy..Even though i'm an indian i really miss that period of pakistan cricket it was really something special...sad that it's just a part of history now

  • hoodbu on December 5, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    Sigh! That team had potential, although don't they all?

  • on December 5, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    I remember getting up at about 4am to listen to this when I was about 11!

  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on December 5, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    That sydney test match was indeed quite hilarious and most humourous one if there was anyone who could lose that test from position of dominance it surely had to b pakistan as they are well-known to blow hot and cold and for past four years more cold. i mean even a state team of australia of any county team would would have over-hauled that target woah that was some fun watching sydney test absolutely loved that

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  • CharlieAlanJakeHarperFamily on December 5, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    That sydney test match was indeed quite hilarious and most humourous one if there was anyone who could lose that test from position of dominance it surely had to b pakistan as they are well-known to blow hot and cold and for past four years more cold. i mean even a state team of australia of any county team would would have over-hauled that target woah that was some fun watching sydney test absolutely loved that

  • on December 5, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    I remember getting up at about 4am to listen to this when I was about 11!

  • hoodbu on December 5, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    Sigh! That team had potential, although don't they all?

  • on December 5, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    Those were the good old days. Back in the 4th grade, i would be alone at home and have to stay up till 3 am to watch sky sports match highlights on FSC as they didn't show any cricket in the US. Inzamam was a fantastic player, man do i miss him. and Danish Kaneria, Shaoib Akhtar, and Mohammad yousuf all at the twilight of their careers..that era of pakistan cricket is history...imagine it was just 5 years ago they had such a formidable team...I miss cricket being played in Pakistan, especially those matches held in the winter time where all the spectators were wearing sweaters and everything was real hazy..Even though i'm an indian i really miss that period of pakistan cricket it was really something special...sad that it's just a part of history now

  • Force01 on December 5, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    It was this series that ushered in the decline of the class of '05. MBEs brought down to earth by a talented albeit underachieving Pakistan team. England have never been the same force again. But wait...they are 500 odd for 4 with a lead of 300+ under their belt against the Aussies in Adelaide. Reason enough to dish out another round of MBEs?

  • smjr on December 5, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    It is very sad that Pakistan has abundant of fast bowlers in 70s 80s 90s who single handedly run through opposing batting line up but now we are searching for them. Umar gul, Tanvir, Wahab are very good but they have to bring their act together for success. In my opinion Wahab seems to be better bowler than Aamir, for whom lot of hype is created, similarly Tanvir seems to be better bowler on batting friendly conditions compared to Asif. Tanvir has better pace than Asif. No body forget what impression Asif and Amir made on Trott and Broad at Lords when England were 90-7. The only big loss to Pakistan during the spot fixing saga is Kaneria. I have earlier said that we may try Shoiab Akhtar in test matches against South Africa. He may bowl at least 12 overs in an inning but nobody knows the worth of these overs. He is the bowlers who generate unusual pace when the bowl strike the pitch. Who knows he may takes 2 to 3 good wickets quickly and that could make a huge difference.

  • on December 5, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    This was a great test match. Shoaib v Giles was absolutely amazing. It was one of his best deliveries ever. And that too on his comeback. Though you forgot to mention Salman Butt's performance. The tour of India a few months back and this series were the best under Inzamam's captaincy.

  • smjr on December 5, 2010, 6:42 GMT

    Could any one knows why Shabbir Ahmad is not get selected in Pakistan team ? Is it due to his bowling action or some thing else.

  • on December 5, 2010, 7:00 GMT

    well wel wel....i do remember dat day infact i was present in dat spectecular stadium ov MULTAN...I did bunk 4m my college(punjab college)..went there wd frnds(sherry,hammad)....loved to watch pak playing like dis.....cant eva 4get Gile's stupms flying all over.....awesome match...awesome memories...!!!

  • vichan on December 5, 2010, 7:01 GMT

    England were hot favourites going into this series, with the expectation that they would sneak victory in Pakistan on the way to replacing Australia as the number one Test team at the time. Of course, it was more a case of Pakistan being the first in a number of steps down for England on the way to the nadir of the 2007 Ashes. A good example of a great team reaching it's zenith with victory over Australia and failing to go on, much like South Africa in more recent times.

    In many ways, this series the beginning of the end for both of these teams. Although in hindsight, England with the player resources at its disposal and sound infrastructure has been able to come back towards the top of the world game relatively quickly. However the future of Pakistani cricket is very uncertain still, and it remains to be seen how long it will take for that country to be challenging for the upper echelons once more.