While England's cricketers were celebrating the Ashes victory at Trafalgar Square 10 weeks ago, several prominent members of the Australian touring party conceded that Michael Vaughan's vibrant team had taught them a thing or two during the five-Test series.
It is to be hoped that England, following a series defeat in Pakistan, reach the same conclusion at the end of today's final Test. Whether Pakistan complete a 1-0 or 2-0 series victory this morning is largely irrelevant, over the three Test matches Inzamam-ul-Haq's team have been the better side.
England will attempt to put a positive spin on the loss. They will publicly state that the result of the series came down to two hours of reckless batting on the final morning of the first Test in Multan and the toss in Faisalabad. Each, undoubtedly, played a part, but one hopes Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, do not truly believe that these were the only differences between the two teams. If they do, they will be doing the Pakistan players a disservice, and the whole experience of playing here will have been a waste of time.
In all three Test matches, Pakistan's batsmen have shown greater resolve and flexibility than England's. Pakistan's bowling has also contained far more variety, and no two players have emphasised this more than Inzamam and Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan's spearhead, now seemingly over his playboy past.
And it was this pair who yesterday dominated another memorable display by Pakistan. Inzamam, who walked out to bat when Mohammad Yousuf was finally dismissed for a career-best score of 223, came within three runs of posting his third century in three innings, while Shoaib knocked over England's openers with the new ball.
Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood managed to survive the 30 overs of play that were possible before bad light ended proceedings. The pair took England's second-innings total to 121 for 2, yet they still require a further 227 runs to make Pakistan bat again after their mammoth first-innings total of 636 for 8 declared.
Inzamam has batted beautifully throughout the series. He has led his team by example, scoring 53, 72, 109, 100 not out and 97 in five visits to the crease. Three England players - Marcus Trescothick, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen - have scored centuries but between them they have also gathered seven scores of under 20.
On each occasion he has batted, Inzamam has played according to the state of the game. Yes, he may have been slightly selfish yesterday and in Faisalabad, when he batted on in order to give himself the chance of reaching three figures, but he would have given a teammate exactly the same opportunity if they had been in a similar position.
England's batsmen have been guilty of not adapting their games to the match situation or the conditions placed in front of them. They have attempted to bat with the same positive intent as they did against the Aussies. In lower-scoring games and on pitches which gave England's bowlers assistance, the tactic brought success.
Yet here, on pitches where chances come around far less frequently, Stephen Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Matthew Hoggard have found it far harder to atone for the adventurous approach of their batsmen. In the first innings of this Test, five of England's top six batsmen got themselves out playing cross-batted strokes, while at Multan they batted arrogantly, carelessly, over-confidently - call it what you want.
Bell has been England's most consistent batsman. He has lost his wicket to a couple of speculative shots but he has passed 50 now on three occasions. Bell, Trescothick and Collingwood have been the only three England players who have been prepared to bat like their opponents, with patience.
After watching Pakistan's batsmen flog England's bowlers to all parts of Lahore - 190 runs were added in 28.4 overs - Bell and Collingwood found themselves batting together before the end of the seventh over. A Shoaib inswinger proved to be too slippery for Trescothick - catching him bang in front of the stumps before he had moved his feet- and a beautifully disguised slower ball accounted for Vaughan.
In an effort to try to break England's resistance, Shoaib attempted another slower ball at Bell but it did not come out his hand correctly and turned into a shoulder-high beamer. It struck Bell on the left forearm as he took evasive action and he collapsed on the floor.
Initially it was feared that Bell was seriously injured, but after a couple of minutes of treatment from the England physiotherapist, he was able to carry on batting. Shoaib apologised and Rudi Koertzen, the umpire at the bowler's end, called "no-ball". Koertzen had a quiet word with Shoaib, and had he felt the bowler delivered the beamer deliberately, he could have been prevented from bowling again in the innings. But there was nothing malicious about the delivery: it was an accident.
"I didn't really see the ball at all, so there was a bit of shock when it hit me," said Bell. "It [the slower ball] is a tricky ball to face because it goes up from the hand and when you are batting you are looking for a zone from which the ball comes from.
"For a split second I thought it was a quicker ball, and that would not have been very good. But he has bowled them very well. He manages to get a real dip on it and as soon as it goes above the sightscreen it is difficult to pick up. When it goes up and you lose it, it does worry you a little bit, but credit to him he has found a way of bowling it really well."
Scoreboard from Lahore
England won toss; Fourth day of five
England - First Innings 288 (P D Collingwood 96, M P Vaughan 58, M E Trescothick 50).
Pakistan - First Innings
(Overnight: 446 for 5)
Mohammad Yousuf c Pietersen b Udal 223
602 min, 373 balls, 26 fours, 2 sixes
*Inzamam-ul-Haq run out (Vaughan) 97
168 min, 101 balls, 9 fours, 2 sixes
ÝKamran Akmal c Vaughan b Flintoff 154
326 min, 242 balls, 14 fours
Naved-ul-Hasan not out 42
60 min, 38 balls, 4 fours, 1 six
Extras (b5 lb12 w4 nb7) 28
Total (for 8 dec, 708 min, 156.2 overs) 636
Fall (cont): 6-516 (Mohammad Yousuf) 7-546 (Kamran Akmal) 8-636 (Inzamam-ul-Haq).
Did not bat: Mohammad Sami, Danish Kaneria.
Bowling: Hoggard 23-4-106-2 (5-2-11-2, 3-0-11-0, 4-2-4-0, 3-0-16-0, 3-0-16-0, 3-0-23-0, 2-0-25-0); Flintoff 36-8-111-1 (nb7 w1) (4-1-11-0, 4-2-4-0, 3-1-8-0, 3-1-11-0, 8-2-12-0, 4-0-15-0, 3-1-5-0, 4-0-27-0, 3-0-18-1); Harmison 43-3-154-1 (10-1-41-0, 12-1-35-1, 3-0-14-0, 5-1-13-0, 3-0-10-0, 8-0-31-0, 2-0-10-0); Plunkett 28.2-1-125-2 (w3) (3-0-19-1, 2-0-7-0, 2-0-10-0, 1-0-1-0, 5-1-14-1, 5-0-19-0, 6-0-25-0, 1-0-9-0, 2-0-9-0, 1.2-0-12-0); Udal 18-1-92-1 (3-0-19-0, 5-0-30-0, 7-1-22-0, 3-0-21-1 ); Collingwood 6-0-22-0 (2-0-11-0, 1-0-5-0, 3-0-6-0); Bell 2-0-9-0 (one spell).
Progress: Fourth day (min 98 overs): 450: 576 min, 128.3 overs. 500: 613 min, 136.5 overs. 550: 653 min, 145.2 overs. 600: 687 min, 152.2 overs. Declaration at 12.15pm.
Mohammad Yousuf's 50: 102 min, 71 balls, 9 fours. 100: 282 min, 183 balls, 14 fours, 1 six. 150: 435 min, 278 balls, 18 fours, 1 six. 200: 567 min, 347 balls, 24 fours, 1 six. Inzamam-ul-Haq's 50: 105 min, 66 balls, 6 fours, 1 six. Kamran Akmal's 50: 127 min, 85 balls, 6 fours. 100: 230 min, 178 balls, 9 fours. 150: 323 min, 240 balls, 13 fours.
England - Second Innings
M E Trescothick lbw b Shoaib Akhtar 0
2 min, 2 balls
*M P Vaughan c and b Shoaib Akhtar 13
35 min, 21 balls, 3 fours
I R Bell not out 60
163 min, 100 balls, 9 fours
P D Collingwood not out 37
130 min, 96 balls, 5 fours
Extras (b5 lb2 w1 nb3) 11
Total (for 2, 166 min, 36 overs) 121
Fall: 1-0 ( Trescothick) 2-30 (Vaughan).
Bowling: Shoaib Akhtar 9-0-34-2 (nb1) (5-0-21-2, 3-0-11-0, 1-0-2-0); Naved-ul-Hasan 12-1-46-0 (nb1) (9-1-39-0, 3-0-7-0); Mohammad Sami 9-4-20-0 (w1) (6-4-7-0, 3-0-13-0); Shoaib Malik 2-1-1-0, Danish Kaneria 4-1-13-0 (nb1) (on e spell each).
Progress: Fourth day: Lunch: 5-1 (Vaughan 4, Bell 1) 1 over. 50: 54 min, 10.2 overs. Tea: 84-2 (Bell 42, Collingwood 22) 27 overs. 100: 140 min, 30.1 overs. Bad light stopped play 4.30pm.
Bell's 50: 138 min, 85 balls, 8 fours.
Umpires: D B Hair (Aus) and R E Koertzen (SA).Reuse content