Rawalpindi, Oct 30: Spin wizard Saqlain Mushtaq bowled Pakistan to their first one-day series victory over England in 26 years when they won the third and final one-dayer six wickets at the Pindi Cricket Stadium here on Monday.
Saqlain captured five for 20. This was the sixth time that he achieved the feat, as England were spun out for a paltry 158 in 42.5 overs.
In their target chase, Pakistan top order almost made a mess of things when the three top order batsmen returned at the score of 51. But Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana held the innings together before Abdur Razzaq finished the match in 43.3 overs with a little cavalier nine-ball 17 with four boundaries.
Inzamam hit an elegant but punishing 60 while Youhana nudged and pushed the ball before losing his off stump to Craig White with 31 still needed. The two featured in a 77-run third wicket partnership.
England paceman Andrew Caddick picked up Imran Nazir and Shahid Afridi on the last ball of his first over and first ball of the second over respectively to be on a split hat trick which was thwarted by Inzamam. Later Ashley Giles accounted for Salim Elahi to give an intriguing turn to what looked like a calkwalk victory for Pakistan. But the two most experienced Pakistan batsmen batted professionally, responsibly and defiantly to shatter the Englishmen's dreams.
While Pakistan, for the second successive match, exposed England's vulnerability against quality spin bowling, the tourists also had something to gain from the third match. The three inexperienced but promising Pakistan stroke-makers struggled against a fired-up England bowling led by Caddick on a placid track. Imran, playing for a sick Saeed Anwar, was caught in the second slip and Shahid Afridi was beaten by the swing to be caught by Nasser Hussain at point. Both failed to show any resilience against controlled swing bowling from the visitors.
Salim, an in-form batsmen, could have easily been third victim to England pacers had Graeme Hick held on to a regulation catch off Darren Gough with Pakistan reeling at 20 for two.
From then on, Inzamam and Youhana took control of the proceedings with some excellent but at times risky strokes. Youhana was cool and calculated by rotating the strike, Inzamam batted by mixing caution with aggression with some fluent carpet drives that yielded seven boundaries.
England fielding also let them down when they failed to convert three half chances and also missed the sticks thrice to run out the batsmen. Inzamam was dropped by Ashley Giles off White when 50.
Abdur Razzaq also had a memorable day when he became the 12th Pakistani to capture 100 wickets while pushing back the off stump of Mark Ealham. Razzaq's 99th victim was Alec Stewart who was caught behind the wickets.
England were in dire straits when they slumped to 86 for six after Moin Khan won the third successive toss and put England into bat. But Graham Thorpe and Ealham (23) saved England from complete embarrassment by adding 47 for the seventh wicket.
Thorpe was the last man out after scoring 39 while Trecothick scored 36.
However, the poor leg before decision by Mian Aslam against England captain Nasser Hussain took the gloss off a comprehensive Pakistan victory. Wasim Akram's delivery had pitched nearly six inches outside the leg stump but Aslam, who is in the ICC panel, raised his fingers towards heaven to stun the England captain as well as experts of the game. In Karachi, Riazuddin had given a shocking decision against Alec Stewart off Akram. Both are in the ICC panel.
England will now stay in Rawalpindi and play a four-dayer against Patron's Eleven at the KRL from Wednesday.