At Manchester, May 31, June 1, 2, 3, 4. Pakistan won by 108 runs. Toss: Pakistan.
This was Test cricket at its twisting, turning best. At tea on the last day, England were 196 for two and on course for the draw that would have brought them a fifth consecutive series win for the first time in 30 years. But eight wickets fell in a frantic, fractious final session, sparking scenes of jubilation from Pakistan's horn-blowing, flag-waving fans. Four batsmen were dismissed by no-balls which, amid the flurry of appeals, the umpires failed to spot. This was bad luck for England, but it couldn't detract from the truth: the better side had won, extending England's dismal record at Old Trafford to a solitary victory since 1981.
The star of the show was Inzamam-ul-Haq, who came within 15 runs of emulating Steve Waugh's twin hundreds here in 1997 as he toyed with the bowlers like a cuddly lion pawing a mouse. He inspired Pakistan on the opening day, first keeping his head above water while the ship threatened to go down, then powering full steam ahead to leave England floundering; he averted another mini-crisis in the second innings; and he moved into third place on Pakistan's all-time run-list, ahead of Zaheer Abbas.
England weren't helped by Hussain's absence. The captaincy passed to Stewart, and Knight came into the middle order; in the only other change from Lord's, Hoggard - winning his second cap almost a year after his first - replaced fellow-Yorkshireman Sidebottom. Pakistan, who warmed up for the game with a trip to Blackpool's pleasure beach, brought in off-spinner Saqlain Mushtaq for Shoaib Akhtar, and Faisal Iqbal for Salim Elahi.
Under heaving skies, the match got off to a breathless start. Caddick reduced Pakistan to 92 for four, only for Inzamam, caught behind off a Cork no-ball on 31, to throw his weight around. England's bowlers were hindered by a strong wind, but that only partly explained the long-hops and leg-stump half-volleys now served up. Inzamam greedily tucked in, working anything on his stumps through mid-wicket and biffing the short stuff over square leg en route to his 14th Test century. He added 141 for the fifth wicket with Younis Khan - an aesthetic mixture of subcontinental wrists and MCC left elbow - before Hoggard trapped Younis leg-before on the stroke of tea. When Inzamam slashed Hoggard to gully, England sensed an opening. Rashid Latif had other ideas. Stealing singles and whipping balls off his pads with panache, he helped the score to 370 for eight by the close. Not since 1992, when Pakistan themselves hit 388 for three, also at Old Trafford, had any side scored so heavily on the opening day of a Test in England.
England wrapped up the innings next morning for 403, Latif reaching a Test-best 71, but lost both openers at 15. Now Thorpe and Vaughan embarked on the most thrilling partnership by two English batsmen since Thorpe himself and Hussain slew Australia at Edgbaston in 1997. In the form of his life, Thorpe cut with great certainty, while Vaughan was masterful off front and back foot, especially through the off. Early on the third morning, Thorpe moved to his ninth Test hundred, and Vaughan followed him to his first - getting there in bizarre fashion with a six that included four overthrows.
The game now turned on its head. Having equalled his Test-best 138, Thorpe hustled for one single too many and was beaten by Wasim's athleticism to end a record all-wicket partnership for England against Pakistan (267). When Vaughan gloved Waqar Younis down the leg side five balls later, the floodgates opened. Ward was caught red-handed trying to pinch a second run after a misfield, Knight nibbled at an out-swinger, and then Cork flapped feebly to mid-off to begin a procession of four wickets in four overs. Stewart was left unbeaten on 39 after failing to protect the tail.
Pakistan led by 46, but lost three for 63 and again turned to Inzamam for salvation. Dropped at second slip on 36 - Knight's third miss of the match - Inzamam shared in another stand of 141, this time with Yousuf Youhana. They fell in consecutive overs, Youhana given out caught at slip off the peak of his helmet, but England again failed to run through the lower order and were left with a target of 370 in 112 overs. Atherton and Trescothick gave them a rollicking start and reduced the equation to 285 off 90 overs by stumps. A nation speculated excitedly.
On the final morning, England made a cautious 64 runs for the loss of Atherton, bowled through the gate after his fourth century opening stand with Trescothick. But straight after lunch they were outmanoeuvred. Saqlain - the key player on a pitch now providing turn and bounce - bowled into the rough outside Trescothick's leg stump; in ten overs England managed just ten runs. Having bored them out of the game, Waqar could now attack at leisure. Trescothick reached his second Test century, Vaughan fell soon after, and at tea England, with eight wickets in hand, needed 174 off 32 overs.
A draw looked on the cards, but the second new ball triggered another England collapse. Waqar skittled Thorpe, Trescothick touched a leg-side bouncer from Wasim, and Stewart padded up to a straight one from the tireless Saqlain. Then the controversy began. Wasim trapped Knight with a huge no-ball that went uncalled by umpire Nicholls, and with successive deliveries Saqlain had Ward caught behind cutting and Caddick dumbfounded by the "doosra". On both occasions, he had overstepped; more to the point, England had lost four for one in 13 balls. Cork and Gough dug in, but with barely seven overs left Cork fell to yet another Saqlain no-ball. Gough slashed to point next over and the Pakistani fans rushed on to the pitch. They could hardly believe their luck; nor could the Australians, watching in London on television.
Man of the Match: Inzamam-ul-Haq. Attendance: 63,502; receipts £644,795. Men of the Series: England - G. P. Thorpe; Pakistan - Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Close of play: First day, Pakistan 370-8 (Rashid Latif 64*, Saqlain Mushtaq 2*); Second day, England 204-2 (Vaughan 84*, Thorpe 98*); Third day, Pakistan 87-3 (Inzamam-ul-Haq 25*, Yousuf Youhana 3*); Fourth day, England 85-0 (Atherton 30*, Trescothick 47*).