Anderson bowls England to late consolation
For most of the day, Pakistan appeared to have everything under control. Yasir Hameed and Mohammad Yousuf anchored a measured approach with a pair of half-centuries, after England had once again been sold short by their misfiring batsmen. Despite winning the toss and choosing to bat first, England stuttered to a below-par total of 206 for 9, and a 4-1 series defeat seemed to be on the cards.
At 152 for 3 in the 40th over, Pakistan were cruising home with less than a run a ball required, but England's bowlers persevered throughout. Steve Harmison was outstanding and the spin pairing of Ian Blackwell and Shaun Udal kept asking questions all the time. They kept the Pakistani run-rate under strict control, with just 95 runs coming by the halfway mark of the innings, but it was Blackwell who hauled England back into contention with three vital strikes in the space of 12 balls.
First to go was Younis Khan, who had raised his bat in celebration after scoring his first run for three innings, but then crashed a flat drive into Paul Collingwood's bread-basket in the covers. In Blackwell's next over, Yousuf's patience snapped as he hoofed a swirler down James Anderson's throat at long-on, and after Shoaib Malik had been reprieved on 1 after steering a cut straight into Geraint Jones's gloves, he too opted for the long handle and picked out Vikram Solanki in the deep.
Hameed had already gone, stumped by Jones to give Udal his first one-day wicket for ten years, and Pakistan had spiralled to 167 for 6 with all their accumulators gone. Suddenly England were in the ascendancy. Shahid Afridi knows only one approach when the requirement drops below 50, and he began to throw the bat with reckless abandon.
But Anderson returned to the attack to pin him with a perfect yorker (170 for 7), and when Abdul Razzaq attempted to mow a slower ball back over Anderson's head, he managed only to send a top-edged swirler to Marcus Trescothick, circling around from mid-on.
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan was Pakistan's last real hope, and he smeared a six over long-on to reignite a subdued crowd. But Anderson wasn't finished, and with his next ball he produced a perfect slower delivery which Collingwood pouched at deep-midwicket.
The denouement had shades of England's own top-order capitulation in Monday's decisive fourth match, when they had chased 211 for victory but slumped to 114 for 8 in the 29th over. Today, their approach when batting first was far more circumspect, with Vikram Solanki and Andrew Flintoff taking an uncharacteristically funereal route to accumulation.
Flintoff, playing solely as a batsman after damaging his dodgy left ankle, provided ballast but no blast-off in his 73-ball 39, while Solanki made a solid 49 from 86 balls. But even in the absence of the rested Shoaib Akhtar, it was Pakistan who made all the running, with the debutant, Mohammad Asif, excelling.
Asif, of course, is no stranger to England's batsmen. At Bagh-e-Jinnah last month, he decimated his opponents with 10 for 106 in the match, as England carried an embarrassing seven-wicket defeat into the first Test at Multan. Tall and wiry, with an immaculate high action at the point of delivery, he picked up where he had left off in that match, by bowling Marcus Trescothick off the inside-edge with his third ball of the match, en route to 2 for 14 from his seven overs.
When Matt Prior's disappointing series ended with a clip to square-leg, Solanki and Strauss decided that discretion was the better part of valour and steadied the middle order, with just 46 runs coming in the first 15 overs. Strauss made the most of what little running there was, moving along to 26 from 57 balls before being beaten in the flight and stumped off a leaping offbreak from Arshad Khan.
It never looked like being enough, especially when the tail folded in a comedy of run-outs. With Flintoff subbed out of the action and a flight home beckoning in only a few hours' time, there seemed little hope for England. But if they've managed to retain one thing all through this difficult tour, it is their ability to surprise.
Marcus Trescothick b Asif 1 (3 for 1)
Dragged a drive into his stumps
Matt Prior c Hameed b Asif 9 (21 for 1)
Clipped leg-stump half volley to midwicket
Andrew Strauss st Akmal b Arshad 26 (52 for 3)
Beaten by flight and bounce
Vikram Solanki c Younis b Afridi 49 (117 for 4)
Driven on the up to cover
Andrew Flintoff b Naved 39 (161 for 5)
Big swing, stumps splattered
Ian Blackwell lbw b Naved 0 (161 for 6)
Pitched outside leg
Geraint Jones run out 3 (169 for 7)
Attempted second, beaten by good take from keeper
Paul Collingwood run out 33 (181 for 8)
More of the same
Shaun Udal c Hameed b Razzaq 0 (192 for 9)
Chipped full ball to midwicket
Salman Butt b Harmison 6 (18 for 1)
Inside edge attempting a drive
Kamran Akmal c Trescothick b Anderson 11 (21 for 2)
Edge to first slip from one that held its line
Yasir Hameed st Jones b Udal 57 (122 for 3)
Missed inside-out drive
Younis Khan c Collingwood b Blackwell 15 (152 for 4)
Smashed long-hop to cover
Mohammad Yousuf c Anderson b Blackwell 54 (159 for 5)
Skier held at long on
Shoaib Malik c Solanki b Blackwell 8 (167 for 6)
Ballooned to mid-off
Shahid Afridi b Anderson 4 (170 for 7)
Cleaned up by yorker
Abdul Razzaq c Trescothick b Anderson 4 (177 for 8)
Deceived by slower ball
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan c Collingwood b Anderson 13 (191 for 9)
Looped slower ball high to long on
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo