Third Test Match

Pakistan v England 2000-2001

Samiul Hasan

At Karachi, December 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. England won by six wickets.
Toss: Pakistan.

The pre-tour scripts proved wrong. The predictions went awry and the critics ate their words when, in near darkness, England achieved an extraordinary victory in a compelling climax to the tour. The win gave them their first Test triumph in Pakistan in 39 years and ended their five-series drought against Pakistan (their last series victory was at home in 1982). For Pakistan, it was their maiden defeat at the National Stadium in 35 Tests, after 17 wins and 17 draws. But it was also their fourth successive home series defeat in three seasons.

With failing light always going to be a factor, Pakistan captain Moin Khan adopted desperate delaying tactics, for which he was fiercely criticised, after his side were bundled out for 158 on the final afternoon, leaving England a target of 176 in a minimum of 44 overs. His bowlers took 40 minutes to send down the first seven of these before tea, and almost three and a half hours to bowl a total of 41.3 intense, nail-biting overs. Moin, who was warned for his go-slow strategy by referee Ranjan Madugalle during the tea interval, made three unsuccessful appeals for bad light to umpire Steve Bucknor as Thorpe and Hussain resolutely stood their ground. With victory in sight, but little else, Thorpe edged the winning runs. Some of the Pakistani players thought he had been bowled, until the ball was spotted by a searching fielder.

"The fielders in the deep just couldn't pick the ball. I have never played in such poor conditions," said Moin later, though in truth it was his defensive ploys and limited ideas that allowed England to claw their way back after losing Atherton, Trescothick and Stewart in the space of 27 runs with 111 still required from a minimum of 27 overs. "Another five minutes and it would have been complete darkness," said Hussain, who praised Hick and Thorpe for their decisive fourth-wicket stand of 91. Hick, who had failed dismally in his five previous innings, finally played a Test-winning hand with 40. Thorpe remained undefeated on 64, demonstrating to the end the patience and mental toughness that characterised his series.

The two of them had pushed the ball for ones and twos in the big gaps that were freely available. When Waqar Younis, playing his first match of the series, was brought back into the attack in the 37th over, Hick greeted him with a four before being bowled. Waqar had come into the side only 15 minutes before the toss after Wasim Akram mysteriously withdrew with a reported back spasm.

Pakistan's failure to capitalise on the turning pitches was England's gain, especially for left-arm spinner Giles who, on his first senior tour, finished with 17 wickets. His seven here included the match-turning scalp of Inzamam-ul-Haq eight minutes before stumps on the penultimate evening. The ball spun across the batsman out of the bowlers' rough and clipped his off stump. It would prove to be the delivery of the series.

Still, starting the final day with a lead of 88, Pakistan appeared in no immediate danger, although night-watchman Saqlain Mushtaq was soon deceived by Gough's slower ball. Salim Elahi and Yousuf Youhana proceeded to add 50 before both perished in successive overs. Youhana went to hook but gloved White's bouncer to Stewart, and then Elahi was caught at silly point off pad and glove as he pushed forward to Giles. At lunch, six wickets were down and the draw remained the likeliest outcome. But after the interval, Abdur Razzaq was caught in the gully when the ball bounced off his boot (television replays cast some doubt on whether it had also touched the bat), and, next, Moin hit a full toss to his opposing captain at mid-off. When Waqar was run out after a mix-up and Danish Kaneria fell to Gough's in-swinging yorker, Pakistan's last six wickets had fallen for 30 runs, setting the scene for the final drama.

Yet an England victory had looked a distant prospect on the first two days as Inzamam and Youhana punished the bowlers with flawless, stroke-filled centuries and a fourth-wicket stand of 259. They helped Pakistan post a decent 405 despite a collapse which saw their last seven wickets fall for 82. Inzamam, who when 79 was the first batsman to complete 1,000 Test runs in the calendar year, caned 22 boundaries in his six-hour 142, while Youhana's 117 - his second Test century in three innings - was spiced with 14 fours and a six in 311 minutes.

England's hopes of staying in the match rested on the shoulders of Atherton, who duly obliged with a marathon century. He defied the heat and the bowlers for nine hours 38 minutes to score 125, the cornerstone of his team's 388. In the First Test, he had overtaken Hutton (6,971 Test runs); now, he passed Hammond (7,249) to become England's fifth-leading run-maker after Gooch, Gower, Boycott and Cowdrey. Hussain's valuable contribution, 51 in nearly four and a half hours, was his first half-century in 18 Test and 27 first-class innings in 2000. It could not have been more fitting that he was also there at the end to see lead team to glory.

Man of the Match: MA Atherton.
Man of the Series: Yousuf Youhana.

SOME YOU WIN, SOME YOU LOSE
"But really for almost a whole day his [Atherton's] batting made for insufferable viewing. In 9hrs 38mins, in which time one could hear the whole of Götterdämmerung twice and still nip out to the pub for last orders, he failed to score off no fewer than 350 balls. It was, in its own way, admirable. It was also stultifying and, one could argue, counter-productive."
Michael Henderson, The Daily Telegraph, 11 December 2000

© John Wisden & Co