Flintoff powers England to victory

One-day international: Swashbuckling performance from injury-plagued all-rounder provides impetus for thrilling run chase

Anything is possible for England now. In the intense atmosphere and draining heat of the National stadium here last night they made 305 to beat Pakistan in the first match of the one-day series. It was their largest total in the second innings of any limited-overs game, the fourth highest successful pursuit by any team and they had an astonishing 16 balls to spare. In those circumstances they might have made 350.

Anything is possible for England now. In the intense atmosphere and draining heat of the National stadium here last night they made 305 to beat Pakistan in the first match of the one-day series. It was their largest total in the second innings of any limited-overs game, the fourth highest successful pursuit by any team and they had an astonishing 16 balls to spare. In those circumstances they might have made 350.

By the time Graham Thorpe struck the winning four a few minutes before 11pm local time the crowd of 35,000, a wall of intimidating sound for most of the previous eight hours, had been reduced to what amounted to polite applause.

It was still hardly Lord's since fires were being lit in the stands at the time but it was a measure of England's triumph.

Before the match, Nasser Hussain, their captain. had somehow invoked the spirit of Henry V when he said his players could be inspired by the atmosphere - the highest level, the highest heat, the highest pressure - or wish to seek the comfort of their hotel rooms. A bit rich perhaps considering this was a one-dayer, albeit at Karachi, not Agincourt.

But Hussain played the role of Prince Hal impeccably, leading from the front after his side had been reduced 13 for 2. Any gentlemen of England now abed would have been stirred to wakefulness by a fearless exhibition.

When you need 305 to win the match what you do not need is the loss of early wickets.

Four England batsmen made half-centuries, Hussain, Graeme Hick, Thorpe and Andrew Flintoff but the man of the match, rightly, was Flintoff. When he ambled to the wicket England to replace his leader, who had been stumped with a foot up having been beaten by a leg break from Mushtaq Ahmed, England were 164 for 4 in the 31st over. Nineteen overs to make 141, even on a pitch which was as hard and smooth as marble, still made Pakistan favourites.

Flintoff, who is unfortunately departing for home after the one-day series because his back will not allow him to bowl, played his best innings for his country. He was careful and despite hitting three sixes he played the ball on the floor. Only once did he essay an incautious chip almost to within reach of a fielder.

He deserved to be there at the end but with only three wanted he tried to steer one to third man and Moin Khan, Pakistan's wicket-keeper and captain took a smart catch to his right. Moin was not telling a word of a lie when he said later that Flintoff's 84 in 59 balls turned the game. There were six fours and three sixes, including one off Wasim Akram's slower ball, and plenty of hard running.

Flintoff won a Daihatsu car for his efforts and the praise of Hussain.

"Freddie showed his fitness and everything we know about him." But Hussain issued a warning, aimed at Flintoff as much as anybody that feet must be kept on the ground.

Bad back? Freddie Flintoff looked the fittest man on the field last night.

Of course he would not have been in a position to finish the game of Hussain and Hick had not restored England's fortunes after a disturbing incident to the fourth ball of England's innings.

It had taken 13 long years to get England's show back on the road in Pakistan, after the infamous 1987 Mike Gatting-Shakoor Rana incident and precisely four balls followed by one hesitantly raised index finger to veer dangerously off it again heading for a dark cul-de-sac. At that moment, Alec Stewart, England's opening batsman, dropped his bat to the ground, picked it up and walked off the ground shaking his head.

Stewart might have taken with him all the diplomatic niceties and welcoming dialogue of the past week. His body language did not need an interpreter. England were back in Pakistan, it said, and it was turning out to be exactly like last time. Then the umpiring was condemned, Gatting had his row with Rana and things were never the same again.

If Stewart's reaction was heated first impressions and every other impressions thereafter suggested that he might have had reason to doubt umpire Riazuddin's reading of the situation. Pakistan's appeal was positive, prolonged and unanimous. Stewart stood before Riazuddin decided he had to go.

Barry Jarman, the match referee said later that he would be having a quiet word with Stewart. England do not need much more of this, however.

Hick and Hussain put on 114 in 107 balls, Flintoff and Thorpe shared 138 in 102. It was team batting. It needed to be after what looked like the perfect three-act play of Pakistan's innings. They began ferociously against some wayward English bowling which insisted on landing both sides of the wicket, but Hussain kept his nerve, rotated his bowlers impressively and often and was not afraid to attack the batsmen.Pakistan were 92 after 15 overs but England were back in it. Only 106 came in the next 25 overs. Then Pakistan launched the onslaught. Abdur Razzaq, their own bashing tyro, launched a blistering assault of straight hitting. His remarkable unbeaten 75 took a mere 40 balls. The bowlers came to dislike him.

Pakistan scored 106 in the last 10 overs. It was breathtaking stuff and England sides of the past might have folded. Any side might have folded.

England did not. It was a wonderful start to their tour.

KARACHI SCOREBOARD

Pakistan won toss

PAKISTAN

Saeed Anwar c Stewart b White 24 (33 min, 27 balls, 4 fours) Imran Nazir b Caddick 30 (87 min, 47 balls, 2 fours, 1 six) Salim Elahi c Stewart b Ealham 28 (32 min, 24 balls, 4 fours) Inzamam-ul-Haq c Flintoff b Ealham 71 (116 min, 87 balls, 6 fours) Yousuf Youhana c Stewart b Gough 35 (78 min, 64 balls, 1 four) Abdur Razzaq not out 75 (61 min, 40 balls, 5 fours, 3 sixes) *ÿMoin Khan c sub b White 18 (24 min, 12 balls, 2 fours) Wasim Akram run out 0 (4 min, 0 balls) Waqar Younis run out 1 (3 min, 1 ball) Saqlain Mushtaq b Gough 3 (8 min, 3 balls) Mushtaq Ahmed not out 2 (2 min, 1 ball) Extras (lb7, w4, nb6) 17 Total (for 9, 50 overs) 304

Fall: 1-39 (Saeed), 2-87 (Salim), 3-97 (Imran), 4-197 (Yousuf), 5-219 (Inzamam), 6-267 (Moin), 7-271 (Wasim), 8-277 (Waqar), 9-302 (Saqlain).

Bowling: Caddick 10-1-53-1 (3-0-21-0, 4-1-9-1, 1-0-7-0, 2-0-16-0) (nb4, w4); Gough 10-0-71-2 (4-0-25-0, 2-0-8-0, 2-0-13-1, 2-0-25-1) (nb1); White 9-0-69-2 (5-0-35-1, 2-0-9-0, 2-0-25-1) (nb1); Ealham 10-0-49-2 (7-0-18-1, 3-0-31-1); Giles 8-0-37-0; Trescothick 3-0-18-0 (one spell each).

Progress: 50: 42 min, 50 balls. 100: in 95 min, 124 balls. 150: 137 min, 192 balls. 200: 171 min, 247 balls. 250: in 202 min, 279 balls. 300: 225 min, 302 balls.

Inzamam-ul-Haq 50: 83 min, 69 balls, 4 fours. Abdur Razzaq 50: 47 min, 29 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes.

ENGLAND

M E Trescothick c Mushtaq b Waqar 11 (18 min, 15 balls, 1 four) ÿA J Stewart c Moin b Wasim 0 (2 min, 1 ball) *N Hussain st Moin b Mushtaq 73 (157 min, 99 balls, 8 fours) G A Hick c Moin b Abdur 56 (89 min, 51 balls, 3 fours, 1 six) G P Thorpe not out 64 (140 min, 66 balls, 4 fours) A Flintoff c Moin b Abdur 84 (86 min, 60 balls, 6 fours, 3 sixes) C White not out 0 (1 min, 0 balls) Extras (lb4, w5, nb9) 18 Total (for 5, 47.2 overs) 306

Fall: 1-2 (Stewart), 2-13 (Trescothick), 3-127 (Hick), 4-164 (Hussain), 5-302 (Flintoff).

Did not bat: M A Ealham, A F Giles, A R Caddick, D Gough.

Bowling: Wasim Akram 8-0-59-1 (5-0-24-1, 2-0-21-0, 1-0-14-0) (nb5, w1); Waqar Younis 10-0-66-1 (5-0-29-1 3-0-21-0, 2-0-16-0) (nb3); Abdur Razzaq 10-0-71-2 (3-0-27-0, 4-0-19-1, 2-0-21-0, 1-0-4-1) (nb1, w2); Saqlain Mushtaq 9.2-0-54-0 (5-0-25-0, 4.2-0-29-0) (w2); Mushtaq Ahmed 10-0-52-1 (one spell).

Progress: 50: 52 min, 63 balls. 100: 87 min, 107 balls. 150: 136 min, 169 balls. 200: 186 min, 218 balls. 250: 214 min, 251 balls.

Hussain 50: 91 min, 59 balls, 8 fours.

Hick 50: 85 min, 47 balls, 3 fours, 1 six.

Thorpe 50: 111 min, 51 balls, 3 fours.

Flintoff 50: 54 min, 39 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes.

Umpires: Riazuddin and Saleem Badar.

Man of the match: A Flintoff.

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