Pakistan vs England: Nasser Hussain recalls winning series in the Karachi darkness in 2000

Ahead of England’s first Test series in Pakistan in 17 years, Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain recalls the victory in the Karachi gloom back in December 2000…

Our 1-0 series win over Pakistan in 2000 was so special because it came from nowhere.

Everyone assumed all three Tests would be drawn and some of the press guys had already written it up as ‘a boring series’.

Thursday 1st December 4:30am

A 0-0 scoreline did seem on the cards going into the final day of the third Test, which Pakistan began on 71-3, leading us by 88 runs.

But in that type of situation the third innings of a Test can become an absolute nightmare for the side batting because you don’t know whether to stick or twist – and once we took a couple of wickets, I felt we had a chance.

The Pakistan players are heroes to their fans but we felt they could crumble under a bit of pressure, and that’s what happened as we skittled them for 158, with Darren Gough and Ashley Giles both taking three wickets, leaving us 176 to chase in under 50 overs.

Darren Gough, Pakistan vs England, Karachi 2000 (PA Images)
Darren Gough (second from right) took three wickets in Pakistan’s second innings as England were set 176 to win

We had absolutely nothing to lose, plus we had the luxury of knowing that we could really go for it with the bat because if we did get into trouble we’d always have the option to claim bad light and walk off with a draw.

I told Michael Atherton I was going to promote some of the one-day boys like Graeme Hick up the order to have a bash but he told me where to go and was completely right, too!

He was in magnificent nick – he had a strike-rate of around 78, as he will happily tell you – and got us off to a flying start.

Michael Atherton, Pakistan vs England, Karachi 2000 (PA Images)
Atherton scored 26 from 33 balls at the top of the order, hitting five fours

We all knew the light could be a problem and by the end of our run chase it was absolutely pitch black in the middle. It was all quite laughable really.

I remember Inzamam-ul-Haq running one way in the outfield while the ball went in the completely opposite direction! It was that tough.

These days we would never have finished that game because the umpires would have set a benchmark light reading a few days earlier that would have kicked in at around 4pm.

Steve Bucknor was one of the umpires that day.

He was someone who liked to be in charge and you didn’t try to wind up, so when Pakistan started to complain about the light – as any fielding side, including us, would have done – and started to slow things down, he had a few words with their captain, Moin Khan.

Bucknor was adamant that the game was going to be finished, which my batting partner at the other end, Graham Thorpe, found hilarious, and he duly wound Moin up about it.

Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, Graham Thorpe (PA Images)
Hussain, Michael Atherton and Thorpe (left to right) celebrate after England’s series-securing six-wicket win in Karachi

To have Thorpey – the little master – out there at the end settled me down. We were always confident when he was out there as he was a man for pressure situations and a fantastic player.

The moment he hit the winning runs was one of the highlights of my career. I’m sure it’s one of his, too. There were some quite emotional scenes as we made our way up to the dressing room.

It had been a long time since the last tour of Pakistan and we had some bridges to build after the Shakoor Rana incident with Mike Gatting in 1987.

We had a great team spirit on that trip and felt good after playing some quality cricket going into the series, beating West Indies for the first time in 31 years.

I remember our tour song was a particular favourite of our coach Duncan Fletcher’s: ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’!

England beat Pakistan 1-0 in Test series in December 2000 (PA Images)
England’s players pose with the trophy after beating Pakistan 22 years ago

Duncan’s influence in that series was huge, on the playing of spin, in particular.

He was also a fairly defensive coach, which was perfect for that tour. The side we had were never going to win the series 3-0. We had to sit in and be patient.

It will be completely different this time around with Brendon McCullum saying the aggressive cricket that served England so well during this year’s home summer will be the template again in Pakistan.

I still think Joe Root’s ability to bat long will be crucial, though, something he was great at in Sri Lanka and India a few years ago.

It’s going to be a fascinating series.

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Head coach Brendon McCullum says England plan to play attacking cricket in Pakistan in this year’s series

Pakistan vs England fixtures

  • First Test, Rawalpindi (December 1-5) – 5am start, build-up from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket
  • Second Test, Multan (December 9-13) – 5am start, build-up from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket
  • Third Test, Karachi (December 17-21) – 5am start, build-up from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket

England Test squad for Pakistan series

Ben Stokes (captain), Rehan Ahmed, James Anderson, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ben Foakes, Will Jacks, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone, Jamie Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Mark Wood.

Watch England’s three-Test series in Pakistan live on Sky Sports Cricket. Coverage of the opening game begins at 4.30am on Thursday ahead of a 5am start in Rawalpindi.

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