England stood firm for a narrow victory over Pakistan in the final one-day international at Rawalpindi to ensure they can return home for Christmas with some pride still intact.

There was relief, as well as a touch of satisfaction, in captain Marcus Trescothick's voice as he reflected on ''what might have been'' in the 3-2 limited-overs series defeat as well as England's 2-0 Test match disappointment.

Trescothick, pressed into service to lead his country for much of this tour because of Michael Vaughan's knee injury, was particularly pleased with England's bowlers after they dug deep to defend an under-par total of 206 for nine on an awkward pitch.

Man-of-the-match James Anderson (4-48) gave another hint that he is returning to something at least approaching the form which saw him burst on to the international scene almost three years ago, while slow left-armer Ian Blackwell (3-29) produced a telling spell on a surface which favoured spin.

''It was a great performance - especially the way we bowled. That's twice in a row we've bowled really, really well,'' said Trescothick, after his team had held their nerve under lights to close out a six-run victory despite half-centuries from Pakistan's Yasir Hameed (57) and Mohammad Yousuf (54).

''It's nice to finish on a high, go home and be able to hold your heads up and say you've done okay,'' he added.

It did not look so good, Trescothick conceded, when England mustered a relatively modest total, even after a late onslaught from Durham's Liam Plunkett.

''It was a good last over when Liam got 19 runs. Looking back, that was probably quite important but we still thought we were probably 15 or 20 runs short,'' he said.

''It was good to see someone like Liam play the way he did at the end there. You generally get a bit of a high if you get a bit of a partnership or a flurry like that.''

Plunkett's brief display of big-hitting and Anderson's efforts with the new and old ball proved just enough but Trescothick was not fooled into thinking England are entirely back in the groove.

Their Ashes glory seems a long time ago now and the captain is well aware deficiencies in the top-order batting cannot be glossed over.

Asked for his summary of the one-day series, he said: ''It's probably the same as the Tests - what could have been, really.

''The previous game was probably the killer for us, we could have won that one quite easily if we had just batted a bit better.

''But we didn't perform well enough with the bat in any of the games bar one. That is something for us to address and something we have already spoken about on numerous occasions.

"We'll have to keep assessing it to make sure we are getting the right people in the right places with the right plans.''

There is mitigation for England in the absence through injury of Vaughan, Ashley Giles and latterly Kevin Pietersen, not to mention Simon Jones, who missed the whole tour.

Trescothick acknowledges the loss of resources but is wary of allowing it to explain away failure.

''We are missing important people but we're not going to use that as an excuse,'' he said.

''We still have most of the top seven we would have anyway and we have some very good players who have come in.''

Trescothick himself has struggled badly for runs in the one-dayers and young opening partner Matthew Prior faltered after a promising start.

The Somerset left-hander stresses, though, the root problem has concerned the poor form of experienced players, rather than the likes of the attack-minded Prior.

''The best teams in the world generally have 'pinch-hitters' at the top of the order,'' he said.

''What highlighted the difficulties so much was that the other people - like myself and Andrew Strauss didn't perform. That really puts pressure on these people.

''When you've got the mainstays of your batting not scoring enough runs it really puts the younger generation under a lot of pressure.''

If Trescothick had a tough time with the bat, he discovered captaincy duties suited him more than he expected.

''Even though it's been hard dealing with certain things, I've quite enjoyed it.

"I've surprised myself a bit,'' he said