Sajid Mahmood followed his most impressive one-day international bowling performance with a calm, matchwinning innings as England levelled the series by three wickets at Edgbaston. He'd been instrumental in keeping Pakistan down to 154, but a middle order collapse against Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq meant his work wasn't done. When he joined Michael Yardy 37 were still needed but the pair completed the job and a fine series fightback by England.
This wasn't a match for high quality batsmenship so Mahmood's innings deserves much praise after he arrived in an intense atmosphere following a collapse of 4 for 16 in 19 balls. In the recent domestic C&G final he'd swiped across the line with Lancashire nearing their target and here was confronted with a baying crowd containing a large proportion of support for Pakistan. While in the field he'd again been subjected to taunts, as happened in the Test series, but he managed to shut everything out to play a mature innings.
He clipped Afridi through square leg to ease the tension but the killer over as far as Pakistan were concerned was the return of Rana Naved, who struggled throughout the series. Inzamam-ul-Haq had only entrusted him with one over with the new ball and bringing him back was a gamble that proved very costly. Three fours came off the over and the target was down to single figures. A word, too, for Yardy who showed the cool head that has made him a key finisher at Sussex. He didn't hit a boundary but worked the singles and had the satisfaction of stroking the winning runs.
Pakistan staged a commendable fightback to haul themselves back into contention. Mohammad Asif and Iftikhar Anjum struck with the new ball as England stumbled to 49 for 3, but Kevin Pietersen tore into the Pakistan bowlers as the target raced into view. He rode his luck to reach 34, while also playing some vintage Pietersen shots, before trying to swing Afridi away over midwicket and being castled by a googly. It was a fine piece of bowling, but another example of Pietersen not quite being able to control his emotions.
Another five overs of Pietersen and the match would have been as good as over, but with a sniff of an opening - and nothing to lose - Pakistan went for broke. Inzamam crowded the batsmen and Jamie Dalrymple was trapped plumb by a quick legbreak. In the next over Paul Collingwood, in his 100th ODI, was trapped by Razzaq, who then lured Chris Read into an ill-advised hook shot. The rush of wickets enlivened the crowd and the noise level reached levels where even the umpires were saying they were struggling to hear.
Throughout the day, Pakistan's fans hadn't had much to cheer as their batsmen struggled to make any impression. Conditions were not easy and Pakistan only managed eight fours and a six, but part of that was down to the accuracy of the bowling and sharp fielding. Apart from an early spate of wides, the England attack plugged away on the ideal line and length and didn't allow the batsmen width to attack.
Pakistan tried to assert some authority by sending Afridi in at No.3 who attempted to blast the ball out of the park before swinging across the line at Lewis. Mohammad Hafeez's battle ended when he dragged an attempted pull off Mahmood into his stumps and Pakistan had lost three wickets for eight runs.
Mahmood has had a tough summer in the limited overs game, but retains the basic attributes of pace and swing which make him dangerous. Although still prone to throwing in wayward deliveries he kept the batsmen on their toes. Mohammad Yousuf had again been unconvincing and he could do little against the snorter from Mahmood that squared him up and was edged low to slip.
Collingwood's medium-pace then proved ideal for the conditions and he trapped Inzamam lbw and bowled Abdul Razzaq before he could repeat his barrage from Trent Bridge. Kamran Akmal's miserable tour with the bat ended with an edge off Yardy, which Read grabbed after a bobble via his pad, and Younis Khan was left to salvage what he could.
However, despite a spirited fightback Pakistan ended their long tour on a poor note while England have continued to show a welcome return to winning ways in one-day cricket - although not without the odd nervous twitch along the way.