Pace, spin and controversy

We look back at six encounters between Pakistan and England that became iconic (sometimes for the wrong reasons)

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
The Pakistan team, led out by Fazal Mahmood, leave the ground after levelling the series, England v Pakistan, 4th Test, The Oval, 5th day, August 17, 1954

The Pakistan team, led out by Fazal Mahmood, leave the ground after levelling the series in 1954  •  Getty Images

An historic moment in Pakistan's Test history as they overturned England for the first time in a low-scoring encounter. There were just two half-centuries in the match - by Denis Compton and Peter May - but it was Fazal Mahmood, Pakistan's first great fast bowler, with 12 wickets, who provided the defining performance. It was his second 12-wicket haul in Tests, following the 12 for 94 he claimed against India in Lucknow, which gave Pakistan their maiden Test victory in 1952. Those two hauls remain Pakistan's best overseas. In this match he earned Pakistan a three-run lead with 6 for 53 in the first innings and then, defending 168 with England seemingly cruising on 109 for 2, claimed 6 for 46 in the second. Pakistan's lower-order batting was also key: over the two innings the last two wickets added 138 runs. Speaking of the match, Mahmood said: "Even though we were bowled out for 133, I did not think for a second we would lose."
The scorecard records Match Drawn - that does not even tell the half of it. Mike Gatting's infamous confrontation with umpire Shakoor Rana led to the third day's play being lost and almost caused the abandonment of the tour. England, and especially Gatting, were already peeved by the standard of the umpiring and the tension came to a head when Rana claimed that Gatting had been moving a fielder - David Capel - without the knowledge of batsman Saleem Malik. It began one of the most heated exchanges on a cricket pitch - and produced the iconic photo, taken by Graham Morris, of Gatting with his finger jabbing at Rana, who refused to stand again until an official apology was made. "It was not his job at square leg to inform the batsman what I was doing. I did nothing for which I need to apologise," Gatting said. His hand was eventually forced, but England did not have time to press home a strong position, which had been based on Chris Broad's hundred and then bowling out Pakistan for 191. "Mike Gatting was packed off to the headmaster's study without so much as a Wisden to stick down the back of his trousers," wrote Martin Johnson in the Independent. However, in the Times, Ted Dexter wrote: "Regardless of the provocation, Gatting has made a mess of it and should be disciplined."
The two "Ws" won many matches for Pakistan, but this one was with bat in hand - although they did share the small matter of 13 wickets. Chasing 138 against a depleted England attack down to three fit bowlers, after the loss of Phil DeFreitas and Ian Botham (in what proved his last Test), Pakistan slipped to 95 for 8 as debutant Ian Salisbury and Chris Lewis took six wickets between them. However, Lewis and Devon Malcolm ran out of gas and Salisbury could not quite cap a memorable debut as Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis held their nerve deep into the Sunday evening.
"What England's captain needed was an over from Wasim or Waqar," Wisden said. "But they were batting for the other side and, slowly but surely, they took Pakistan to victory. Rarely can a Test crowd have been through so many emotions in a single day's play." Earlier in the match, Waqar had been central to sparking a trademark collapse as England fell away from 123 without loss, but in reply, Malcolm went through Pakistan's middle order. A combination of Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed dismantled England's second innings, although Alec Stewart carried his bat for an unbeaten 69. Lewis removed Pakistan's Nos. 2, 3 and 4 for ducks and Salisbury hinted at a legspinning future for England, but both proved false dawns.
A series that had crept along on dead pitches with slow scoring came to life on the final day as England somehow conjured a remarkable victory moments before Karachi would have been enveloped in complete darkness. Even before Graham Thorpe edged past his stumps for the winning runs, Pakistan's fielders had remonstrated that they could not see the ball, but the protests fell on deaf ears against Steve Bucknor after their previous attempts to slow the game down. England's astonishing victory push actually started the previous evening when Thorpe took an outstanding catch on the long leg boundary to remove Saeed Anwar, and Ashley Giles ripped a delivery across Inzamam-ul-Haq to clip his off stump. It opened the door a fraction, and on the final morning Giles, Darren Gough and Craig White chipped through the rest of the Pakistan order to leave a tantalising target of 176 in 44 overs and a race against the light. Thorpe led the way, while Michael Atherton - who, the first innings, had made what would become his final Test hundred - Marcus Trescothick and Graeme Hick all chipped in before the denouement in the gloom.
Fresh from their heady 2005 Ashes glory, England appeared set to continue their surge with victory in the opening Test of this series. They had stayed ahead of Pakistan throughout the first four days, restricting them to 274 on a flat pitch then building a lead of 144 on the back of Trescothick's 193. Pakistan fought hard in their second innings, led by Salman Butt's 122, but England's pace attack - the powerful trio of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff - chipped away with stamina and skill to leave a target of 198. At the close of the fourth day England were 24 for 1, losing Trescothick but still strongly placed. When they moved to 64 for 1 on the final morning all seemed in order, but then Danish Kaneria removed Ian Bell and Andrew Strauss in the same over and Pakistan sensed their moment. Paul Collingwood fell next over to make it three wickets in seven balls, and when Kaneria snared Flintoff and Mohammad Sami removed Kevin Pietersen it was all Pakistan at 101 for 6. A Shoaib Akhtar thunderbolt left just one of Giles' stumps standing, but Geraint Jones and Shaun Udal eked out a stand of 49 to pull England within 32 of victory. However, Kaneria removed Udal and then Shoaib finished the job with another searing yorker to Jones before Harmison fended to gully. England's 2005 bubble was burst.
As the players left the field after the third day's play, all the talk was of a world-record eighth-wicket stand of 332 between Jonathan Trott and Stuart Broad, and the implosion of the Pakistan batting, which left them 41 for 4 following on. Yet, a few hours later, the focus dramatically, and permanently, shifted. Shortly after 10pm, the News of the World broke the spot-fixing story of no-balls to order involving Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, who had etched his name on the honours broad with 6 for 84 earlier in the match. Overnight few people slept and next morning there were doubts as to whether the Test would resume. It did, but amid a torpid atmosphere where England could barely bring themselves to celebrate wickets as they secured a massive, but forever hollow, innings victory to take the series. The match was over; the real story had only just begun. The three players were found guilty and each handed prison sentences of varying lengths. Five years on, there remains a possibility that England could face Amir at some point in this tour.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo