Pakistan surge to crushing 165-run win
All the world may be a stage, but Pakistan proved they aren't merely players in a shining performance which glistened from start to finish and comprehensively wiped out England. Kamran Akmal struck his second successive century and the middle order chipped in to blast Pakistan to a heady 353 for 6, before the bowlers cleaned up the visitors for 188 to win by a whopping 165 runs. It was a thoroughly polished non-contest.
Akmal smeared the bowlers to all parts, Mohammad Yousuf battered his way to fifty and Abdul Razzaq clattered an unbeaten 51 from 22 balls to set England a daunting run-chase. It was one that they had to make without their big-hitting superstar Kevin Pietersen, and his absence told - although he would have had to have pulled something quite special out of the bag to rescue England after Pakistan mauled their bowlers.
Akmal and Yousuf shared a stand of 104 for the third wicket, then Razzaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq added 78 in just 40 balls. More good news for Pakistan: they may just have resolved their opening duo conundrum finally, too, with Akmal and Butt putting on another decent stand - this time, 74. In this series they now average more than 50 per innings for the first wicket. That will do.
What won't do is England's bowling performance. Again they were under par, again they were punished accordingly. James Anderson's ten overs went for 72, and he was wicketless just like Steve Harmison who was hit for 62 from his eight.
A woeful display it may have been, replete with wide after wide, but credit must be given to Pakistan's batsmen. England tried the short ball, and the fuller ball; they tried the wider ball, and the straighter ball. All had little effect as Pakistan's batsmen exploded out of the blocks ... and then kept on exploding with a joyous display of powerful clean hitting.
Akmal was in particularly fine touch, batting out of his crease as early as the eighth over, and dispatching all that came near him with a series of strong shots off both the front and the back foot. As Akmal charged on in his own merry way to another century - which included a let-off from Paul Collingwood with a caught-and-bowled chance on 69 - Yousuf joined in the fun, twice hitting Plunkett for two fours behind the wicket early doors.
In fact, the whole team rolled up their sleeves to take England to the cleaners. Shahid Afridi, on his return from suspension, chipped in with a cameo of 31, including some typically booming sixes. But he was cut off in his prime after a mix-up with his partner, Yousuf, who ran him out, and then was responsible for his own downfall when, on 68, he fell in similar style.
Razzaq applied further salt and firmly rubbed it in during a painful Plunkett over which read: one, dot, four, four, four, six. At the other end Inzamam eased his way to 45 from just 35 deliveries. England were sharp in the field all the while but Trescothick was left to regret his decision to field, and then some.
The target was always going to be a tall order and England's reply got off to a poor start and they were wobbling at 47 for 3. The required run-rate of seven an over crept up from the very beginning as Trescothick played out a maiden from the first over. And things didn't get much better from there as the rate rocketed with England failing to put together a partnership of any note.
Shoaib Akhtar may not have a wicket to his name, but his run-out of Matt Prior kicked off proceedings. Rana Naved took the next two to set England in trouble. Then Mohammad Sami's wicket maiden sent Andrew Strauss to join his chastened team-mates in the shed. Andrew Flintoff followed for 36, bowled by Yasir Arafat and Paul Collingwood holed out for 19 as Shoaib Malik joined in the party, striking in his first over.
At 122 for 6, England were flailing and needing a wildly unlikely nine-and-a-half an over for victory. Ian Bell, the Supersub, made an unbeaten 37 at the death, but Malik struck twice more to end with 3 for 29, while Afridi took two wickets of his own to sink England without a second thought to give Pakistan a 2-1 series lead.
Defeat for England equals their heaviest-ever loss, which was against West Indies in 1994. Doubtless Duncan Fletcher will have a few icy words to add to England's chill as they headed for early icebaths to reflect on a job badly done. Pakistan now have a hand on the one-day trophy after coming up brightly today.
Salman Butt c Flintoff b Plunkett 29 (74 for 1)
Attempted whip through midwicket; deceived by slower ball
Younis Khan c Jones b Plunkett 0 (84 for 2)
Thick edge off wide-ish one
Kamran Akmal c b 109 (188 for 3)
Miscue sent high to midwicket
Shahid Afridi run out (Collingwood/Jones) 31 (234 for 4)
Mix-up with Yousuf, shy in from gully, bails whipped off
Mohammad Yousuf run out (Collingwood) 68 (272 for 5)
Dink to gully, direct hit finds him well out
Inzamam-ul-Haq b Flintoff 45 (350 for 6)
Cleaned up by yorker
Matt Prior run out (Ahktar) 2 (22 for 1)
Sent back to non-striker's end, direct hit
Marcus Trescothick c Inzamam-ul-Haq b Naved (40 for 2)
Played away from his body, thick edge to first slip
Vikram Solanki c Khan b Naved (40 for 3)
Big outswinger outside off stump, edge to third slip
Andrew Strauss lbw b Sami 23 (79 for 4)
Plumb, trapped low
Andrew Flintoff b Yasir Arafat 36 (101 for 5)
Leg-stump yorker, tried to make room
Paul Collingwood c Butt b Malik 19 (122 for 6)
Holed out at deep midwicket
Geraint Jones c Yasir Arafat b Afridi 14 (140 for 7)
Lobbed reverse sweep to short fine-leg
Ian Blackwell c Sami b Afridi 14 (145 for 8)
Spooned to cover point
Liam Plunkett b Malik 7 (186 for 9)
Bowled round legs going across stumps
Steve Harmison c Afridi b Malik 1 (188 all out)
Popped up attempted reverse sweep
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo