England will take an unassailable 2-1 lead to The Oval for next week’s final Investec Test after wrapping up a 141-run victory over Pakistan at Edgbaston.
Hometown hero Chris Woakes and Steven Finn provided the telling surge, with four wickets for one run between them just before tea, as England bowled the tourists out for 201.
They were completing an improbable fightback, having conceded a 103-run first-innings deficit, and did so ultimately with 13.1 overs to spare – despite the determination of young opener Sami Aslam (70) and then the late sting of an improbable 50 stand between numbers 10 and 11 Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali.
England’s progress on the last day was gradual until Woakes and Finn’s dual intervention, after Alastair Cook declared on 445-6 to set a ground-record Test chase of 343.
It appeared a long shot at times that the hosts could close the deal, especially with Aslam again proving a tough nut to crack on a slow pitch which has declined the notion of deterioration.
But a 10,000-plus partisan crowd stirred up noisy encouragement whenever England threatened, with reverse-swing for the seamers providing extra hope.
England had a solitary success before lunch, thanks to Mohammad Hafeez’s current vulnerability.
As in the first innings, he fell cheaply to a poor shot – this time contriving to find the only man in the leg-side deep with a pick-up shot to fine-leg off Stuart Broad.
It was therefore down to Aslam and Azhar Ali to occupy the remainder of the morning in a half-century partnership.
The second-wicket pair shut England out for almost 62 overs in a stand of 181 first time round, and soon appeared at home again.
But Moeen Ali, with his best spell of the summer, got the breakthrough when Azhar edged a drive sharply to a safe Cook at second slip.
Younus Khan, struggling in the twilight of his career, then succumbed to James Anderson’s mastery of the swing available – and a very good catch behind by Jonny Bairstow, diving to his right.
England were oblivious to their best chance of getting rid of Aslam before he reached 50, Broad hitting him on boot before bat on 38 but there was no appeal even though subsequent simulation demonstrated the ball would have hit half-way up middle stump.
Aslam duly completed his half-century, mowing Moeen over midwicket for his seventh four from the 124th ball he faced.
But Finn’s first wicket of the series was a big one, that of Misbah-ul-Haq with a good delivery that held its line for another caught-behind.
Woakes then struck in his first over of a new spell, his party piece for the sixth time in the series.
It was Asad Shafiq who was bagging a pair, lbw on the defence – and using up a review too, before departing.
A second wicket in successive overs for Woakes, Sarfraz Ahmed edging to second slip also for a duck, was swiftly followed by a second for Finn.
It was the most important of all too, Aslam for once making a mistake about which ball to leave and allowing one to hit the top of his off stump and limit his match aggregate to 152.
England went in search of the three remaining wickets in an extra half-hour claimed before tea.
It was a gambit which came to nought as Yasir Shah and Mohammad Amir kept their hosts waiting.
Neither did for long at the start of a shortened final session, but the defiant last-wicket stand made England sweat for another 11 overs until Sohail was caught-and-bowled by Moeen.
England had hit 31 runs on a sunny morning, for the loss of Yorkshire wcketkeeper Bairstow, in four overs before Cook called time.
Bairstow (83) and Moeen (86no) were in a predictable hurry first thing to continue their run spree.
Moeen hit Yasir’s third and fourth deliveries for leg-side sixes of increasing brutality. Then a mere four followed from the fifth ball, in an opening over which cost 20 runs.
Bairstow’s hopes of a fourth Test hundred ended swiftly, though, when Sohail had him lbw on DRS – after he aimed to leg and missed.
That ended a memorably proactive sixth-wicket stand on 152, and Cook did not dally much longer before committing to the winning straight.
England batsman James Vince is to have a scan on a dislocated finger on his left hand, but has been retained in an unchanged 13-man squad for the final Investec Test against Pakistan at The Oval.
Vince hurt himself fielding in the slips on the last day of the third Test, which England won by 141 runs to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.
England squad for fourth and final Investec Test v Pakistan at The Oval: AN Cook (capt), AD Hales, JE Root, JM Vince, GS Ballance, JM Bairstow (wkt), MM Ali, CR Woakes, SCJ Broad, ST Finn, JM Anderson, JT Ball, AU Rashid.