June 4, 2001

Well done lads! - Pakistan win in style to square the series

Pakistan Team
The Pakistan team sprint for the dressing room after their historic victory
Photo © CricInfo
Pakistan won a thundering victory over England to square the npower 2 Test Series. Today, right from the word go it was clear that victory did not matter much to England. But for Pakistan, it was victory or nothing for they did not want to spoil their unbeaten record in England since 1987. Well, they hit a million dollar jackpot in terms of a come-from-behind victory, to keep their record intact.

Accordingly, both sides had chalked out their strategy, Pakistan to go for a win while England to play for a draw.

England stretched the overnight opening partnership to 146 runs and a defiant 117 by Trescothick did give Pakistan anxious moments but they were determined to get England out. The vulnerability of England's lower half had been exposed earlier and Pakistan bowlers seemed certain after getting 4 to 5 top batsmen they would have smooth sailing. And this did happen, perhaps exactly as they'd visualized because from 229 for 5 England slumped to 261 all out.

Saqlain Mushtaq
Saqlain Mushtaq appeals for the wicket of Vaughan, but in vain
Photo © CricInfo
All day, a remarkable battle took place between bat and the ball. While England's top batsmen put up tough resistance, the Pakistan bowlers did not loose their grip on the game. In the final analysis, it was a dynamic fight by Pakistan bowlers well supported by the fielders. Sadly, a poor standard of umpiring, however, took away a part of the thrill and gloss this contest was capable of dishing out.

Earlier, we saw the England batsmen playing with tremendous confidence and trust in themselves. This may well have been because of the position of advantage they inherited from victory at Lords. Their dour openers stood tall and foiled all the efforts of the Pakistan bowlers acting as a further stimulant for the side.

The situation suited England in every respect as they were only after a draw and could afford to score runs at a snail's pace. The 90 overs of batting were good enough to buy a series victory but only if their batsmen stayed at the wicket. This was precisely the strategy England was following as the first hour's play brought 34 runs with both the batsmen going strong. Pakistan's bowling was tight but not penetrating.

Waqar & Atherton
Mike Atherton is bowled by Waqar for 51
Photo © CricInfo
Then came the lucky break for Pakistan when Waqar Younis clean bowled Atherton after a determined 51 with a beauty of an in-swinger that would have done for any batsman in the world. England had lost their 1st wicket and at lunch the scoreboard read 149 for 1 with Trescothick (88) well set for a century.

After lunch England set a marvelous example of defensive batting. Content and perhaps a little complacent with the Lord's victory and no desire to achieve another, the team seemed to have cut out all aggression from their agenda. With only 10 runs off 10 overs, it was dull and dreary cricket absolutely boring for the 14,000 spectators watching the match.

Trescothick's anxiety about completing a century in such trying conditions was understandable but Vaughan's negative batting was not justifiable. He took a number of balls from Saqlain Mushtaq on his pads but was lucky to survive, only because he did so playing well forward. Despite all the caution he did snick one from Waqar that dropped short of Rashid Latif but was finally caught by him off Razzaq and England was 174 for 2. Here, England strategists may well have had second thoughts about their defensive batting.

With Waqar and Saqlain bowling a tight and teasing spell it was a tough battle between bat and the ball. Under such a situation Trescothick's century (his 2nd in test cricket) was a splendid achievement. He played a confident, safe and steady innings to score his ton in 218 balls with the help of 12 fours. A player of lesser merit would have wilted under pressure.

Lady luck seemed to desert Pakistan, immediately after completing his century, Trescothick was adjudged not out, 'bat and pad' off Saqlain, by umpire Shepherd. This seemed to visibly depress Pakistan's fight for victory and at tea England was 196 for 2 with Trescothick still at the crease with 112.

England lost the 3rd wicket immediately after tea when another vintage Waqar delivery shattered Thorpe's stumps with the new ball. A little later, Trescothick too gave way, trying to ward off a rising delivery from Wasim Akram, was smartly caught by Rashid after playing a heroic innings of 117.

Now that the batsmen who had put up stiff resistance to deadly bowling were gone, the situation changed dramatically. After demolishing England's tail in the 1st innings, the Pakistan bowlers were fully aware of the vulnerability of batsmen to come. In full command of the game they bowled with renewed vigour inflicting one blow after the other on England.

Caddick and Saqlain
Andy Caddick is bowled by Saqlain
Photo © CricInfo
To England's utter horror, the catastrophe that struck its lower order batting in the first innings re-emerged. The procession started with Alec Stewart (19) trapped lbw by Saqlain bringing England down to 229 for 5. The trio of Nick Knight, Ian Ward and Andy Caddick with the addition of only one run, soon followed him. England was at a precarious 230 for 8 barely trying to survive.

Tail-enders Cork and Gough tried to prevent the inevitable. In doing so they held on for 10 overs and added 31 runs. With Pakistan bowlers all fired-up and fielders having formed a cordon around them it was extremely difficult to survive. Both Cork and Gough made their exit one after the other.

England was all out for 261 conceding victory to Pakistan by 108 runs. With this fine victory Pakistan squared the npower Test Series.

The Pakistan bowlers bowled their hearts out to achieve this victory. Saqlain Mushtaq dominated with 4 wickets but key breakthroughs by Waqar and Wasim, grabbing 3 and 2 apiece gave us glimpses of their brilliant past, a more than fitting farewell from test cricket in England. Well done lads!