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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay – Nick Knight's highest ODI score goes in vain owing to Wasim Akram's banana swing

September 1, 1996 - Nick Knight couldn't replicate his white-ball success in tests, but when on song, he was a devastating ODI opener.

Nick Knight may have been a tentative batsman in test cricket who was prone to fishing outside the off stump and getting trapped in front of the sticks while trying to play round his pads, but he was a different player altogether in white-ball cricket.

One of the early exponents of explosive opening, Knight used the fielding restrictions in his favour to add quick runs rather than following the conventional way of seeing off the new ball. This made Knight a delight to watch when he fired in ODIs.

It was not until Nick Knight turned 25 that he got an opportunity to represent England in ODIs. He received his ODI cap in the first of the three-match ODI series against Pakistan at Manchester in August 1996.

The opener was dismissed on 26 in the first match, but showed his credentials with a fine 113-run knock in the next game - only his 2nd ODI - to play a vital role in England's comfortable 107-run victory.

With the series done, Knight showed his hunger for runs in the next match as he remained unbeaten on 125, scoring his 2nd ODI century and making it two in two in just his 3rd ODI.

The opener went on to play 100 ODIs for England between 1996 and 2003 and made five centuries at an average of over 40, two of which came within his first three ODIs, and in the same series against Pakistan.

Knight batted with gusto, scoring at a strike rate of over 85. He struck nine crisp boundaries in his knock and did not get fazed despite the dismissal of opening partner Alec Stewart for just three. Knight remained unbeaten throughout the innings, playing 145 balls and spending 210 minutes at the crease.

Michael Atherton and Matthew Maynard also got decent starts but could not go on to convert it into anything substantial. After their dismissal, no other England batsman could spend time at the crease and Knight had to do it by himself as the team was all out on the last ball of the innings for 246.

Wasim Akram was the wrecker-in-chief as he drew first blood, having Alec Stewart caught and bowled early on in the game. He then picked up another crucial wicket of England captain Michael Atherton just when he was beginning to express himself.

Akram came back for his next spell to rattle Darren Gough's stumps who could have proved to be an irritant for the Pakistan bowlers. Akram also contributed with the run-out of Peter Martin. The champion left-armer conceded 45 runs from his 10 overs while bowling one maiden and pocketed three wickets.

It did not prove to be an easy chase for Pakistan despite a 93-run opening partnership between Saeed Anwar and Shahid Anwar. Ijaz Ahmed also scored a half-century and Aamer Sohail made 29 but Shadab Kabir, Asif Mujtaba and Pakistan's hero with the ball, Wasim Akram were dismissed cheaply.

Wicket-keeper Rashid Latif then remained unbeaten on 31 to take his team to a close victory in the last over.

Adam Hollioake, perhaps the first bits and pieces cricketer in international cricket, who went on to optimize his potential, was the best bowler for England, taking four wickets.

Akram claimed the Man of the Match award for his crucial contribution in Pakistan's victory as the series ended 2-1 in favour of England.

 

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