England 231 for 6 (Trescothick 108*) beat Pakistan 229 for 7 (Razzaq 64, Younis 63, Flintoff 4-32) by four wickets
Marcus Trescothick completed a memorable weekend with a magnificent unbeaten 108, and Chris Read chipped in with a resourceful and impish 25, as England recovered from a seemingly hopeless position to win the deciding match of the NatWest Challenge in the most thrilling manner imaginable.
Chasing 230 for victory at Lord's, England had at one stage been cruising at 129 for 2, but lost four wickets for 25 runs as Pakistan stormed back into contention. Trescothick and Read, however, withstood a ferocious onslaught from Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami, adding 77 for the seventh wicket. Such was the potency of Pakistan's fightback, the result was never truly settled until Trescothick deposited Azhar Mahmood into the Grand Stand to seal the match with nine balls to spare.
Trescothick's innings of 86 at The Oval had been an eye-popping onslaught, but in terms of sheer gumption, it was not a patch on this performance. He rode his luck, outrageously at times, but with the memories of his past failures at Lord's - two centuries and an 86 in his last three visits, all in a losing cause - he was not about to let it slip for a fourth match in succession.
England were 154 for 6, 86 runs from victory, when Read joined Trescothick in the middle of a disturbing wobble. For Read, it was a first return to Lord's since his famous dismissal by Chris Cairns's slower ball in 1999, but together they kept the run rate ticking at six an over. Trescothick swept a brace of welcome boundaries off the spinners, while Read tickled Mohammad Hafeez for four to third man, before picking up four byes as Hafeez beat everyone with a skiddy doosra.
A steady drizzle sent the England balcony scurrying for their Duckworth/Lewis calculations, as Shoaib returned for his final burst of the match. He could - and should - have made the breakthrough, when Trescothick, on 93, edged a searing off-stump delivery to the left of Rashid Latif, who spilled the chance. Trescothick doubled the agony by cutting Shoaib to third man to bring up his fifth ODI century, and Shoaib finally accepted it wouldn't be his day when a Waqar-esque late-swinging yorker exploded across Read's stumps and away for four byes.
When - if - they can bear to conduct a post-mortem, Pakistan will accept that they lost this match in the first 15 overs of England's innings. Sami and Shoaib, still smarting from their rough treatment on Friday, had strained every sinew to make the breakthrough, and it defied logic that England were able to grind their way to an extremely healthy 71 for 1.
England's confusions began in the second over, when Trescothick survived a point-blank run-out attempt from Sami, and then sparred a Shoaib short ball over the heads of the slip cordon. Vikram Solanki didn't last long, blown out of the water by Sami's 95mph off-stump lifter (24 for 1), but Michael Vaughan lived a charmed life - dropped on 0 at second slip by Hafeez, then bowled by a Sami no-ball.
Trescothick might have been run out - again - after jabbing down late on a Sami yorker, and on 35 he was dropped at midwicket again by Hafeez. But the relative calm of Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzaq enabled him to grow in confidence, alongside Jim Troughton, who cracked four eye-catching boundaries in a 40-run partnership for the fourth wicket. But with the introduction of the spinners, Shoaib Malik and Hafeez, came four wickets in nine overs as the pendulum swung Pakistan's way at last. Trescothick and Read, however, could not be halted.
After winning a good toss, England had been ahead on points - just - at the halfway mark. Razzaq, with 64 from 53 balls, and Mahmood had stolen 91 runs from the last ten overs to ensure a competitive total, but England owed their position to another command performance from that unlikeliest of misers, Andrew Flintoff. Flintoff returned figures of 4 for 32, his best in a home international, picking up 3 for 13 in his first eight overs to restrict Pakistan to 118 for 5 after 35 overs. For Pakistan, Younis Khan gritted his teeth to score 63, his first runs of the series.
England were deserving winners of an astonishingly close and uplifting series. Pakistan, for their part, did not deserve to lose.
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