England v Pakistan at Cape Town, 22 Feb 2003

Three balls after he had reduced Pakistan to 78 for eight, White sent Pakistan spiralling further towards defeat whenWaqar Younis was turned and the ball looped up to Knight in the gully.

Shoaib Akhtar enjoyed himself with some wild swinging and authentic strokes to take two sixes off White. That 30th over of the innings cost 21 runs and lifted Shoaib to become top scorer. He only faced 16 balls, but he smote five fours and three sixes before Flintoff, who had perhaps been guilty of bowling too short, found a full length delivery to shatter Shoaib’s stumps and England had claimed a stunning victory.

A superb display of quick, controlled bowling from James Anderson propelled England back into the World Cup just when it looked as if a sub-standard batting display had moved them towards the exit door. The 20 year-old inspired a total collapse of the Pakistani top order with a spell of 10-2-29-4.

It was Andrew Caddick who struck first for England. Despite the fact that the ball was doing all sorts of things under the lights – provided the ball was delivered correctly – Shahid Afridi took on Caddick and drove him way over long-on for six. The next ball was a beauty that took the outside edge on the way through to the greedy gloves of Stewart behind the wicket.

Then Anderson began his demolition of the top order. Inzamam-ul-Haq was squared up by a swinging ball to squirt it to third slip where Nick Knight took a comfortable catch. Anderson’s next ball swung as well – onto Yousuf Youhana’s stumps.

Caddick was rested after bowling seven quality overs to be replaced by Andrew Flintoff as Saeed Anwar and Younis Khan halted the English juggernaut for a few overs. They required a certain amount of luck to do so, but with the ball swinging and the bowlers not wasting the advantage, they were entitled to some good fortune.

It did not last long for, in Flintoff’s first over, Younis Khan tried to turn a ball to leg only to see the ball fly high behind the wicket as it hurried onto him. Stewart set off to get underneath it, but found the ball drifting away from him and the veteran wicket-keeper did well to dive and hold the catch at the end of his run.

Saeed Anwar’s resolute innings came to an end when another swinging delivery trapped him in front. The way he moves so far across his stumps, this always appeared a likely form of dismissal. In the same over, Rashid Latif could be said to have done well to get his glove into contact with a swinging, lifting delivery from Anderson that was as near unplayable as they come and Stewart did the rest.

The enforced bowling change at the end of Anderson’s spell meant that Craig White came into the attack. First ball up, Abdur Razzaq found that White too could make it swing and he was bowled.

In White’s third over, Wasim Akram tried to hook White, but was cramped for room and picked out Ashley Giles at long-leg. By the time Pakistan had reached the halfway mark of their allocation, the game was virtually over and it only remained for the last rites to be administered.

With a batting display that undoubtedly disappointed their numerous supporters and probably disappointed themselves as well, England reached the end of their innings knowing that only a brilliant innings of 66 from 73 balls by Paul Collingwood had given them any sort of total at which to bowl. Even so, the bowlers will have take their cue from Collingwood and put in a special performance if defeat is to be avoided.

Pakistan captain Waqar Younis pulled the strings throughout and his bowlers responded accordingly. However, there was the nagging feeling in English hearts that it was made just a little bit too easy for them to dominate as they did.

England had reached the halfway mark with Collingwood and Flintoff beginning to put a partnership together. Once again, however, having done the hard part and got in, an English batsman got himself out.

In this instance it was Flintoff who had been playing very sensibly and with great self-discipline. He had put on 42 with the admirable Collingwood when Saqlain was brought back into the attack. Flintoff defended the first ball he faced from him but then advanced down the pitch to the next one, was completely beaten by a ball that drifted away from him through the air and Rashid Latif had the job of removing the bails to complete a stumping of chilling simplicity.

Collingwood proved his worth by taking a minimum of risks but nevertheless keeping the board ticking along at a steady rate. The problem for England was that wickets were falling at an equally steady rate.

Craig White was next to go. He was not alone in easing into double figures before giving his wicket away – in his case by chipping a catch to backward point off Shahid Afridi. If he had been able to stay with Collingwood to see the innings through, England might have been able to post a more than useful total. If.

If Ashley Giles, who had given Collingwood sound support, had only swept Saqlain just a little further he would have had a second six to his credit. He had just lifted a slower ball from Shoaib over long-off for one maximum. He went for another but Afridi held a splendid catch running round from long-on and just managed to keep himself inside the boundary rope.

Collingwood went to his fifty from 59 balls with only three boundaries and then showed immense character to take the bulk of the strike and all the honours in the closing overs. When Shoaib let go a full toss, he calmly swivelled to thump it, one bounce, over the mid-wicket boundary. Everything else saw him running like a hare.

A firm stroke to fine leg should have only been a single. Collingwood turned it into two as Inzamam-ul-Haq fumbled for just a moment. Another two followed when he turned the next ball in the same direction but with slightly less pace on it and he cantered home.

Such was Collingwood’s mastery of the situation that Andrew Caddick faced only three of the final 21 balls bowled in the innings and the man from Durham had clawed England back to the outer limit of respectability.

England failed to make full use of the advantage Nasser Hussain had given them by winning the toss at Newlands against Pakistan and batting first. By the time the fielding restrictions came off after 15 overs, they had lost three wickets and then lost the fluent Michael Vaughan and Alec Stewart to be deep in trouble at 118 for five at the halfway point in their innings.

The importance of the match to both sides ensured that there would be no lack of tension on as good a day as the Cape Town climate could provide. As it was, the tension at the start was almost tangible with the huge crowd adding to the atmosphere and absorbed by the early exchanges between England’s batsmen and the much-vaunted Pakistani attack.

The early honours went to the bowlers. Marcus Trescothick appeared tentative in his movements and fenced at a ball from Wasim Akram outside the off-stump at the end of the third over to present a regulation catch to the wicket-keeper.

Vaughan and Nick Knight withstood the excellent bowling, especially of veteran Wasim Akram, to begin to fashion a partnership of substance. However, the first time Knight tried to impose himself on the attack by advancing down the pitch to flail the ball over the covers, he failed to spot a slower ball from Waqar Younis and gave a simple chance to Abdur Razzaq at mid-off to be out for 15.

Hussain replaced Knight, having only faced 35 balls (against Border in a warm-up match on February 6th) since arriving in South Africa. He settled in quietly, played a searing square drive for four, but then tried to force another ball from Waqar through the off-side but found it lifting too close to his body and all he could do was edge it. Rashid Latif held an excellent catch making a lot of ground to his right.

At 59 for three in the 14th over, England were shaking and Pakistan in a position of dominance. Vaughan and Stewart began to wrest the initiative back with a partnership of 51 from ten overs with strokes of authority to force Pakistan onto the defensive. Vaughan had the good fortune to be ‘caught’ off a no ball as son as he had come in, but his innings was blossoming as he reeled off some delightful shots before bringing up his fifty with a sweep off Saqlain Mushtaq. It had taken him 61 balls with seven fours.

Waqar needed to do something and he decided to take himself out of the attack and bring back Shoaib Akhtar. He had already recorded a ball that had gone through the 100 mph barrier, and had seen another edged by Knight for six, and now he answered his captain’s call by taking the vital wicket of Vaughan. The ball was short of a length outside off-stump and Vaughan lashed it backward of square where Younis Khan picked up a very smart catch just inches off the turf.

Worse was to follow for England. Stewart had withstood the pace and spin with equal facility and had 30 from 34 balls when he played a poor shot against what should have been the easier pickings of Shahid Afridi. He appeared almost lazy as he tried to work a straight ball through the leg-side and was bowled to leave Paul Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff to find some sort of inspiration to take England to a total that might be defended under the lights.


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