England jet off to Australia on Sunday after emphatically proving themselves tournament-ready in the winner-takes-all finale to their Pakistan tour.
Talk within the tourists’ camp in the build-up had been of testing themselves in the kind of knockout contest the seventh and final match of an enthralling series presented.
And they met that test with nous and nerve to complete a 4-3 win, as Dawid Malan’s unbeaten 78 plus an innings of 46 not out from Harry Brook helped set a 210-run target and challenged Pakistan to complete what would have been their record chase.
England sealed a 4-3 series win over Pakistan after winning the deciding game in Lahore
Dawid Malan ended the match on 78 unbeaten including eight 4s and three 6s off 47 balls
Any doubts they would be travelling to the World Cup with another tick in the win column were then dispelled inside the first couple of overs as Pakistan’s batting bankers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan fell to the new ball.
Moeen Ali captained the side in Pakistan in the absence of the injured Jos Buttler
In the end, the margin was a huge 67 runs as the home team struggled to develop any momentum thereafter.
Malan had endured an underwhelming series to this point but broke out at the death to make the most of a couple of lives, and put his part in the run out of Phil Salt behind him.
The Yorkshire left-hander had come to the crease in the fifth over when England’s rollicking start had been checked by Mohammad Hasnain pinning Alex Hales leg before with a nip-backer.
Two balls later, however, England were 39 for two after Salt hared down the pitch in response to the ball squeezing off Malan’s pads behind square on the leg side.
It left both men at the same end and Salt with a forlorn task of beating Shadab Khan’s throw. No more than a lob, it evaded Hasnain’s attempts to gather but burst into the stumps nevertheless.
Chris Woakes finished the game with figures of 3-26 as he continues his comeback from injury
The double blow did not dishearten, however, as Malan and Ben Duckett countered from a standing start to share 61 in five overs.
Once again, Duckett showed his mastery of spin, cutting and sweeping hard and then surprising Shadab by powering a straight six.
Duckett departed in the next over to a run out as clinical as Salt’s had been comical: an inside edge was clawed by wicketkeeeper Mohammad Rizwan and in one swish of his arm, as the batsman’s momentum took him down the pitch, the bails were off.
Malan put on a hugely profitable 61-run partnership with Ben Duckett from only 30 balls
Malan was put down at cover by Babar off Iftikhar Ahmed’s round-arm spin soon afterwards and later on 62 in the penultimate over of the innings when Mohammad Wasim floored a steeper at midwicket.
And he made the Pakistanis pay in tandem with county colleague Brook, with whom he shared an unbroken century stand.
Pakistan had recalled Haris Rauf, their bowler of the series, to beef up their attack but he somehow went wicketless on what was an excellent display.
Shan Masood’s 56 runs in an otherwise toothless run chase was the only bright spark
When he combined with another of the four returnees Hasnain, who struck blows to the bodies of each of the set batsmen in the space of three balls, to concede just eight runs across two mid-innings overs, it threatened to halt English momentum.
But Brook, spared himself by a surprisingly lacklustre Babar after towering to mid-on, got under full balls to clear the ropes down the ground on four occasions and Malan went through the gears to cruise beyond a 34-ball 50.
England had resisted the temptation to re-deploy their fastest bowler Mark Wood, wrapping him in cotton wool for the big stage, but for one didn’t require his potency in the power play.
Harry Brook’s 46 not out came off only 29 balls as the Yorkshireman continues to impress
Babar threaded straight to short extra cover in Chris Woakes’ first over and Pakistan were 5-2 when Rizwan had his off stump pinned back by Reece Topley.
There was no coming back from that, although as has been the case throughout the series, it did not stop a home crowd chanting for six specialist Asif Ali in hope of a miracle.
Those increased in volume in line with a spiralling run rate that was in the high teens when he came to the crease at 86 for four and stood at over 20 when he hooked Woakes straight to deep square leg.
There was still more than a quarter of the innings remaining but another full house had witnessed enough, as hundreds streamed for the exits, and England turned thoughts to another challenge down under.
Pakistan’s limp run chase was an ill-fitting end to what has been a brilliantly contested series