The intrigue may at last be waning in the High Court with Imran Khan withdrawing part of his defence, but it was building up at Lord's, where England's fortunes fluctuated like a defrosting vindaloo. Once Inzamam- ul-Haq had gone to a standing ovation and a Test-best score of 148, the threat of a big total receded and England ended the day in decent shape with nine Pakistan wickets accounted for.
However, no Test match against Pakistan is complete without a speck of controversy and Inzamam - on 64 at the time - ought to have been the man given out when he was involved in a mix-up with his team-mate Salim Malik.
Having completed a first run, Salim, the non-striker, set off for a second, which was probably there despite Ian Salisbury's brilliant sliding stop and throw.
Inzamam, strangely mute considering he briefly left his ground at the bowler's end, later claimed he shouted "Wait". But if that call was made, it wasn't heard by the advancing Salim, who was first to touch his bat down in the crease. All the while a nonplussed Jack Russell casually removed the bails at the other end, which had by now been vacated by both batsmen.
In fact, neither man was officially given out and Salim walked, taking the long trudge back to the dressing-room as slowly and accusingly as he could. If it was a sacrifice, television replays showed it to have been in error.
Test cricket is more about results and less about the methods of achieving them, and for that England will be thankful. On a docile pitch, very different to the one England played India on here a month ago, England's bowlers struggled to produce anything remotely resembling a wicket-taking delivery until after tea, when the umpires changed a "horribly misshapen" ball, and its replacement began to swing.
At that stage, Pakistan were 197 for 4 and handily placed to bat England out of the game. Instead they capitulated, losing five wickets for 93 runs as England began to get the ball off the straight for the first time in the day. It was a moment David Lloyd, the England coach, later acknowledged as an important one. "That ball change just shows the mysteries of swing bowling."
And swing it surely did with Dominic Cork at last being able to persuade umpire Peter Willey to give the 18-year-old debutant Shadab Kabir out lbw, a decision he also upheld when Mark Ealham later inquired after a perfect in-swinger had caught Wasim Akram plumb in front.
Alan Mullally, who had been England's best bowler in the earlier sessions, then stepped in to take three quick wickets, including the prize scalp of Inzamam, now tiring and bowled off an inside edge.
Inzamam, whose talent has been widely touted, first burst into prominence during the 1992 World Cup, where his scorching semi-final blitz against New Zealand took his team to the final when defeat had looked likely.
Tall and bulky, despite a recent weight loss of 26lb, there is a lack of elegance to his play that stems from a dominant right hand and an early commitment to the front foot. But although his cover drives are slapped rather than struck, the power is there and he never missed out on anything wayward, finding the gaps with precision.
Hailing from the dusty town of Multan, famous for its pottery and handicrafts, Inzamam, now 26, struggled on Pakistan's last tour of England, where he averaged 13 over the four Tests he played.
Like many of his countrymen, he has a natural affinity for the on-side. But if that led to his downfall four years ago, an extension of his off- side repertoire has meant a reduction in the amount of balls worked to leg - a risky proposition unless at the peak of your game - and he was twice reprieved, on 63 and 132, to difficult half-chances.
He does not lack confidence, and showed few nerves when belting Graeme Hick for six over the fielder stationed at long-on to bring up his hundred. "Twice I have got out on 95," he explained. "So when I thought it was a good ball to hit, I did. It is a great honour for me to score a century at Lord's."
Apart from Inzamam, only Saeed Anwar, with a stylish 74, got the kind of score Wasim would have been looking for from his top order, although even he was out to a careless slash off Hick.
Having won the toss and batted, Pakistan gifted their early wickets England's way, with Aamir Sohail starting the trend as he padded away a straight one from Simon Brown. It was the Durham bowler's 10th ball in Test cricket and it registered 76mph on the Wilkinson Sniper speedgun - several miles per hour slower than the raising of umpire Steve Bucknor's finger as it sent Aamir on his way.
But if that dismissal could be put down to carelessness, the next should be consigned to The X Files. Few could have guessed what game Ijaz Ahmed was playing, but his dismissal looked like it had come from a primitive form of hopscotch rather than a cricket manual.
Having scratched about for his one run, he then decided to run across his stumps to a straight ball from Cork, almost tripping over as he tried to get his bat out from behind his back pad as a perfectly straight ball bowled him behind his legs.
It was certainly a bizarre start to a day of lost opportunities for Pakistan, who but for Inzamam could have been in very poor shape indeed - a position their bowlers may find hard to overcome.
Pakistan won toss
PAKISTAN - First innings
Aamir Sohail lbw b Brown 2
(13 min, 14 balls)
Saeed Anwar c Russell b Hick 74
(161 min, 120 balls, 10 fours)
Ijaz Ahmed b Cork 1
(300 min, 218 balls, 19 fours, 1 six)
Salim Malik run out (Salisbury-Russell) 7
(13 min, 12 balls, 1 four)
Shadab Kabir lbw b Cork 17
(78 min, 64 balls, 1 four)
*Wasim Akram lbw b Ealham 10
(49 min, 34 balls, 1 four)
Rashid Latif not out 7
(64 min, 36 balls)
Mushtaq Ahmed c Russell b Mullally 11
(28 min, 29 balls, 2 fours)
Waqar Younis c Brown b Mullally 4
(14 min, 9 balls, 1 four)
Extras (b3, lb3, nb3) 9
Total (for 9, 371 min, 89.4 overs) 290
Fall: 1-7 (Aamir), 2-12 (Ijaz), 3-142 (Saeed), 4-153 (Salim), 5-209 (Shadab), 6-257 (Wasim), 7-267 (Inzamam), 8-280 (Mushtaq), 9-290 (Waqar).
To bat: Ata-ur-Rehman.
Bowling: Cork 21-3-75-2 (nb4) (8-3-25-1 3-0-26-0 8-0-21-1 2-0-3-0), Brown 16-2-69-1 (5-1-23-1 4-0-16-0 7-1-30-0), Mullally 19.4-6-40-3 (nb1) (7- 3-12-0 6-2-14-0 6.4-1-14-3), Salisbury 10-1-36-0 (4-0-18-0 5-1-17-0 1- 0-1-0), Ealham 17-3-38-1 (nb1) (11-3-24- 0 6-0-14-1), Hick 6-0-26-1 (3- 0-10-1 3-0-16-0).
Progress: 50: 69 min, 16.3 overs. 100: 119 min, 29.1 overs. Lunch: 112- 2 (Saeed Anwar 59, Inzamam 48) 30 overs. 150: 171 min, 41.4 overs. Tea: 193-4 (Inzamam 86, Shadab 17) 59 overs. 200: 250 min, 61.2 overs. 250 in 299 mins, 73.1 overs.
Saeed's 50: 120 min, 79 balls, 7 fours.
Inzamam's 50: 102 min, 79 balls, 8 fours. Inzamam's 100: 226 min, 160 balls, 12 fours, 1 six.
ENGLAND: *M A Atherton, N V Knight, A J Stewart, G P Thorpe, G A Hick, M A Ealham, +R C Russell, D G Cork, I D K Salisbury, A D Mullally, S J E Brown.
Umpires: S A Bucknor and P Willey. TV replay umpire: J W Holder.
Match referee: P L van der Merwe.Reuse content