Gul to the fore as Pakistan draw level
Pakistan produced a spirited performance to level the NatWest Series at 2-2 with a 38-run victory in the fourth one-day international at Lord’s.
The tourists posted a challenging 265 for seven after winning the toss and electing to bat first, with Mohammad Hafeez contributing 64 and Abdul Razzaq adding a quickfire 44 off just 20 balls in the closing overs.
Graeme Swann returned fine figures of 4-37, but Razzaq's breathtaking late rally, which helped Pakistan take 42 runs from the final two overs of their innings, was to prove crucial.
Andrew Strauss and Steven Davies shared 113 inside 20 overs to put England in a position of strength, yet the rest of the batting order failed to fire as the hosts were bundled out for 227, with Umar Gul claiming four wickets.
The series will now be decided at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday, with England facing a stern test of their character after defeats in the last two matches.
Pakistan got off to a promising start as Kamran Akmal and Hafeez shared an opening partnership of 62.
They were frequently troubled by England’s new-ball pairing of Tim Bresnan and James Anderson, but they soon settled and laid a solid platform before Kamran top-edged a pull off Stuart Broad into the hands of Strauss at short midwicket.
Swann then took centre stage, removing Asad Shafiq and Mohammad Yousuf cheaply as the hosts fought back.
Hafeez stood firm at the other end and appeared keen to take the attack to the England bowlers after passing 50.
However, the opener’s adventure proved to be his undoing as he attempted a wild mow at Swann and succeeded only in picking out Jonathan Trott at gully.
Swann’s fourth wicket arrived soon after as Fawad Alam was bowled for 29, and when Afridi then departed after smashing three sixes in a quickfire 37, Pakistan appeared unlikely to reach a competitive total.
That still appeared to be the case with two overs remaining, but Razzaq helped his side to plunder 21 from Anderson’s final over, before repeating the trick off Bresnan - finishing with five successive fours.
England’s reply began in positive fashion, Strauss and Davies collecting seven fours apiece inside the first 10 overs.
Strauss has looked in glorious touch throughout the series and once again displayed a fine array of strokes on his way to another half-century, with Shoaib Akhtar bearing much of the punishment.
The England captain’s innings was not without fortune - he was caught behind off a Gul no-ball on 25 and survived a strong lbw appeal on 41 when Hafeez pinned him in front of middle stump - but his positive approach generally paid dividends.
However, by the time he departed for 68 - cutting Akhtar to Alam at point - England were in decline, having already lost Davies and Trott, and they were unable to recover as wickets continued to fall at regular intervals.
Davies impressed once again on his way to 49 before playing on attempting to drive a Saeed Ajmal doosra, while Trott passed 1,000 runs for the international summer before falling for four, a forward defensive off Afridi rebounding off his pad and rolling back on to the stumps.
Gul - Pakistan’s hero in the third one-day international at the Brit Insurance Oval last Friday - proved to be the chief destroyer thereafter and picked up his first wicket when a superb inswinger breached the defences of the recalled Paul Collingwood.
Ian Bell, also returning to the England line-up, appeared in good nick and initially steadied the ship alongside Eoin Morgan before picking out substitute fielder Azhar Ali at cover to give Ajmal his second wicket.
With the required run-rate rising above eight an over, England looked to remedy the situation by taking the batting powerplay at the beginning of the 41st over with the score 182 for five - the same as Pakistan at that juncture.
The first over of the powerplay produced 12 runs, with one Ajmal delivery disappearing for four byes before Morgan pulled him through midwicket.
But England crumbled thereafter in the face of some excellent pace bowling.
Akhtar forced Michael Yardy to play on and Gul bowled Bresnan with another fast, full inswinger.
The rejuvenated Shoaib picked up the key wicket of Morgan, who sliced a full toss and saw Yousuf make good ground from mid-off to take a steepling chance behind the bowler.
Swann followed soon after as Gul hit the stumps once again - this time with a clever off-cutter - and Broad was also bowled by the seamer to bring England’s innings to an emphatic end with 3.5 overs unused.