Akmal ton fires Pakistan level
Akmal's second one-day century came from 108 balls, his first against West Indies was also as an opener, and followed on from Shoaib's fiery five-wicket haul which knocked the stuffing out of England. Chasing 230, Pakistan did not need to race along but Akmal was in a hurry from the start. Despite kick-starting his knock with an uppercut for six off Steve Harmison he did not take any undue risks and found few problems with any of the bowlers. He indulged in his favourite cover drive, peppering the off side with timing and placement.
Defending a well-below-par total, England knew that early wickets were their only chance and needed a repeat of Shoaib's performance which had earlier left them floundering on 130 for 8. A bowler light after subbing James Anderson with Vikram Solanki, they threw their new-ball heavyweights at the Pakistan openers. Akmal and Salman Butt responded to the challenge by setting a rapid pace, latching on to any hint of width and having the confidence in the pitch to drive through the line.
Marcus Trescothick tried to regain some control by delaying his Powerplays but, unlike the first match, the Pakistan batsmen did not need to force the pace against Ian Blackwell and Paul Collingwood. Even Flintoff's strike with the first ball of his second spell and Collingwood's well-disguised slower ball to Younis Khan did not slow the tempo. Akmal was not bothered whether the field was in or out and it was only a moment of over-confidence that brought his downfall with the job almost done - and Inzamam-ul-Haq finished it with a flourish.
The job was started, and in destructive fashion, by Shoaib on a pitch that offered more pace and carry than on Saturday. He sparked Pakistan into life, bringing out his full box of tricks in a stunning seventh over of the innings. He produced a perfect slower ball which Trescothick failed to pick and Andrew Strauss couldn't get out of the way of a searing bouncer, Akmal leaping to hold a fine, high catch.
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan then delivered the crucial over of the match, removing England's powerful middle order in the space of five balls. Firstly Pietersen, clearly in discomfort after aggravating a rib injury, swished and missed after a brief boundary flurry. Next Andrew Flintoff, after his early alarm call to receive the Sports Personality of the Year award, was given another wake-up when he was cramped for room trying to play a pull.
As England tottered, five wickets down, Shoaib returned from receiving treatment on a calf injury to produce another of his spine-tingling overs of extreme pace. His second ball back accounted for Geraint Jones, who couldn't get his gloves below a rapid, well-directed bouncer. Blackwell then had no answer to the pace in the following over as he failed to get in the same postcode as a full, fast, straight ball that sent the off stump flying.
With Shoaib reaching his blistering best a swift end to the innings was on the cards but Solanki and Liam Plunkett restored respectability with a record ninth-wicket stand of 100. They milked the spinners, as Inzamam strangely opted not to bring a quick back, but it was far from all nudge and nurdle as Plunkett launched a handsome six off Shoaib Malik while Solanki frequently flicked through midwicket. Plunkett's first international fifty confirmed his allround promise and is another tick for him on an impressive tour.
But if England thought they had been given a sniff, that notion was quickly snuffed out by another of the impressive youngsters. With the crushing nature of this win Pakistan now have the momentum in the series but, as this double-header in Lahore has shown, that can change in the blink of an eye.
Marcus Trescothick b Shoaib 16 (30 for 1)
Slower ball clipped off stump
Andrew Strauss c Akmal b Shoaib 0 (30 for 2)
Gloved a sharp bouncer
Kevin Pietersen b Naved-ul-Hasan 28 (75 for 3)
Ugly heave across the line, hit off stump
Andrew Flintoff c sub (Hameed) b Naved-ul-Hasan 0 (75 for 4)
Limp pull to midwicket
Matt Prior b Razzaq 32 (89 for 5)
Off-cutter nipped between bat and pad
Geriant Jones c Younis b Shoaib (103 for 6)
Gloved short ball to first slip
Ian Blackwell b Shoaib 10 (120 for 7)
Squared-up, beaten for pace
Paul Collingwood c and b Kaneria 23 (130 for 8)
Flat-batted pull against a long hop
Liam Plunkett c and b Shoaib 56 (230 for 9)
Skied a slog against slower-ball
Steve Harmison run out (Younis) 0 (230 all out)
Direct hit from cover
Salman Butt b Flintoff 43 (86 for 1)
Lack of footwork, played down the wrong line
Younis Khan b Collingwood 15 (113 for 2)
Deceived by a slower ball, hit off stump
Kamran Akmal c Solanki b Harmison 102 (187 for 3)
Pulled to midwicket
Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo