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December 3, 2005
Shoaib Akhtar and Danish Kaneria ripped England apart with two stunning spells on the final afternoon as Pakistan surged to an outstanding innings and 100-run victory sealing a 2-0 series win. Pakistan claimed eight wickets in 69 balls after lunch, producing one of the more stunning demolitions of a batting line-up witnessed in recent times. Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood had seemingly given England hope of a draw but Pakistan have played some special cricket in this series and saved their best until the final day.
It was a breathless display of pace and spin from Pakistan's two world-class bowlers; a combination that, if they remain fit, can carry them forward to a period of sustained success. The key moment came in the first over after lunch when Kaneria switched his line of attack back to over the wicket. During the morning session he had been too quick to bowl around the wicket, which negated some of his potency, but whatever the discussions had been during the interval they produced rewards beyond Pakistan's wildest dreams.
Kaneria started with the perfect leg-break to Collingwood which was comfortably held by Hasan Raza, who also held a stinging chance off Kevin Pietersen which really set the ball rolling for Pakistan. Kaneria then opened up his box of tricks - his variations have been a constant threat to England throughout the series - and Andrew Flintoff was comprehensively beaten first ball. He has such control over his googly that it invariably pitches in just the spot that makes the batsman uncertain and Flintoff was drawn in hook, line and sinker. On another day Kaneria could have had a hat-trick as he struck Geraint Jones in front with another wicked googly. Darrell Hair said no but it was the briefest of respites.
When a batting line-up is wobbling Shoaib does not need a second invitation to crash through the defences. He may be the fastest bowler in the world but it has been the slower ball that has left the batsmen flummoxed. It takes something special to dislodge a batsman who is well set on 92 and Shoaib's slower delivery to Bell ranks up there with the deliveries of the series. His variation in pace is as significant as Kaneria's spin, leaving the batsmen guessing at what as coming next.
From 205 for 2, England had crashed to 212 for 6 and Pakistan were carrying all before them. In situations like this decisions sometimes go with the fielding side and Geraint Jones can count himself unlucky when he was sent packing despite a huge inside edge on to his pad. But that was justice for Pakistan who had been denied two very close lbw appeals in the first session when Bell and Collingwood both survived.
Once the middle order had been blown away the tail had no chance of resisting the fury of Shoaib and guile of Kaneria. Shaun Udal received a vicious blow on his left hand from the first ball he received and continued to take a peppering. Liam Plunkett's harsh education in Test cricket continued, handing Shoaib his 12th five-wicket haul in 39 Tests before Inzamam relieved his spearhead of the destruction duty.
A breathtaking afternoon was completed with exceptional efficiency when Udal and Matthew Hoggard fell in two balls. The end came so quickly that the new ball, set up to be the deciding factor as to whether Pakistan would force the win, wasn't even required. It was a performance that would have done Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis - two masters of the batting collapse - proud and the final wicket, Hoggard bamboozled by another googly, was a fitting end. It summed up the major difference between the two teams in this contest - the ability to produce something special at any moment.
The rapid end of the match made the wicketless morning session seem a lifetime ago. Bell became England's leading run-scorer in the series - not bad for a player who wasn't going to take part in the first Test - and Collingwood showed his increasing confidence at this level. But those two innings, while handing England crumbs of comfort amid the wreckage of their collapse, fade into insignificance after what followed. When the end came it was dramatic, clinical and memorable.
Marcus Trescothick lbw b Shoaib 0 (0 for 1)
Quick, straight, seaming in. Plumb in front
Michael Vaughan c and b Shoaib 13 (30 for 2)
Completely fooled by a slower ball
Paul Collingwood c Raza b Kaneria 80 (205 for 4)
Edged perfect leg-break to slip
Kevin Pietersen c Rana b Kaneria 1 (212 for 4)
Forcing edge to slip
Andrew Flintoff b Kaneria 0 (212 for 5)
Completely foxed by a googly
Ian Bell lbw b Shoaib 92 (212 for 6)
Beaten by a slower ball, which went under the bat and struck back pad
Geriant Jones lbw b Shoaib 5 (227 for 7)
Inswinger, huge inside edge
Liam Plunkett lbw b Shoaib 0 (227 for 8)
Another stunning slower ball, back leg on the full
Shaun Udal c Butt b Sami 25 (248 for 9)
Flashing edge to first slip
Matthew Hoggard b Kaneria 0 (248 all out)
Perfect googly into middle stump
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of CricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
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