First Test Match

Pakistan v England 2000-2001

Graeme Wright

At Lahore, November 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Drawn. Toss: England. Test debut: Qaiser Abbas.

England's first Test in Pakistan since December 1987 was bound to attract its share of hype, and much of it centred on a pitch that was dry and cracked. Suspicions that the cracks would widen were strengthened when Pakistan included four spinners, leaving all-rounder Abdur Razzaq to share the new ball with Wasim Akram. But local knowledge held that the pitch would last five days and that any turn would be slow. So it proved, from the moment Saqlain Mushtaq bowled the 11th over. Patient, at times attritional, batting dictated the course of the match.

Atherton and Trescothick established the pattern on the first day, building their second century opening stand in successive Tests. They had almost made it to tea when Trescothick, a little needlessly, tried to sweep Saqlain's leg-break and top-edged to backward square leg. Atherton, 55 at the time, went on to become the sixth Englishman to score 7,000 Test runs before he was similarly deceived by Saqlain; trying to check his stroke, he managed only to lap a catch behind square leg. When the Pakistani spinner also removed Stewart, awkward against the turning ball, and Hussain, who skied to cover attempting to repeat an earlier straight drive, England in six overs had slipped from 169 for one to 183 for four.

The balance would have tipped well and truly in Pakistan's favour had debutant Qaiser Abbas at slip caught Thorpe off Saqlain when he was two. Thorpe, who had come in unexpectedly at No. 3 because of concern over Hussain's back, gave another chance when 20. But next day, initially with Hick and then with White, he secured England's position. Saqlain apart, Pakistan's attack rarely threatened. White batted with great self-assurance, adding 166 with Thorpe, a sixth-wicket record for England-Pakistan Tests, in four hours 17 minutes. He drove Saqlain for four early on, sweep-pulled Mushtaq Ahmed and hit sixes off Shahid Afridi and Saqlain. Thorpe, however, hit what is believed to be the first Test hundred to contain only one boundary; in his 118, made from 301 balls in seven hours ten minutes, he hit just two.

White, 89 not out at the close, deserved a maiden Test hundred, but early on the third morning Saqlain obtained a fraction more bounce and short leg snapped up the chance. Saqlain, who had narrowly failed to take difficult caught-and-bowled chances when White was 22 and 69, now had all seven England wickets, varying his attack skilfully and conceding little more than two an over. After Salisbury and Giles had added 70, he picked up an eighth to finish with Test-best figures, and might have taken all ten had Hussain not declared at lunch.

Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi then rattled up 63 in 88 minutes, making England's innings look pedestrian. But when Anwar was lbw on the stroke of tea, padding up to Hick, and Afridi fell victim to his own impetuousness, well caught at long-off by Gough, the bowlers had a chance to settle as Salim Elahi and Inzamam-ul-Haq set about consolidating the innings. Even so, nothing suggested that, at tea on the fourth day, Pakistan would be eight wickets down and still needing five runs to avoid the follow-on.

White, with pace, and Giles, flighting the ball cleverly, made the breakthrough with three for 11 in eight overs before lunch. Caddick chipped in by removing Moin Khan, after which White's reverse swing and his low catch at mid-wicket accounted for Razzaq and Wasim. That, however, was England's high point. The elegant Yousuf Youhana, 37 not out at the fall of the eighth wicket, and Saqlain shut the door on them with a century stand. Youhana batted six and a quarter hours for his 124, hitting eight fours and a six; Saqlain faced 167 balls for his unbeaten 32 in four hours. England had to settle for a first-innings lead of 79 and an afternoon's batting.

That their second innings cost no more than four cheap wickets was fortunate. Wasim, bowling with real pace and bounce, quickly sent Trescothick packing and greeted Hussain with two consecutive bouncers. The third in as many balls struck the England captain on the wrist as he went to hook and forced his retirement. By the time Hick played all over a leg-break from Afridi, 10.5 overs remained and England were pleased to call it a day. They had shown their mettle and, more importantly, had proved to themselves that they had the technique and temperament to deal with Pakistan. In Giles and White, moreover, they possessed bowlers who could steer them into match-winning positions.

Man of the Match: Saqlain Mushtaq.

© John Wisden & Co