Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Faisalabad, 4th day November 23, 2005

Flintoff warns of task ahead

Flintoff: 'I felt I had another couple of overs in me and just wanted to carry on bowling' © Getty Images
Andrew Flintoff warned that England had a lot of hard work still to do if they are to have a shot at a series-levelling victory, after he led England's fightback on the fourth afternoon at Faisalabad. Flintoff grabbed the wickets of Mohammad Yousuf and Shahid Afridi with consecutive deliveries, before Steve Harmison extracted Kamran Akmal in the final over before the close, to set up a tantalising final day.

"We were trying hard and stuck to our task all day," said Flintoff. "It wasn't a very responsive pitch, but the bowlers and fielders worked hard and we've seen before that a couple of quick wickets can change the game. We've managed to get back into it a little bit, but have to come out strongly tomorrow if we want anything out of it."

Flintoff's two-wicket burst came at a crucial juncture for England, as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf seemed to be carrying Pakistan towards an unassailable position at the close. The second scalp, that of Afridi, was especially sweet for England, given that he had both battered the bowling in his first-innings 92, and subsequently been banned for three matches for digging his studs into the bowler's footmarks.

"We saw in the first innings how he can take a game away quickly, so it was quite crucial to get him out cheaply," said Flintoff, who had been nearing the end of his spell until his breakthrough gave him a second wind. "It had crossed my mind [to come off], but I asked for one more over because the ball was reversing a bit and I'd hit quite a nice rhythm. I felt I had another couple of overs in me and just wanted to carry on bowling."

Flintoff has now taken 12 wickets for the series, and is finding more success on Pakistan's unresponsive wickets than any other bowler. "I've played on some pretty flat wickets," he shrugged. "In India, and when Brian Lara scored 400 in Antigua, that was pretty hard work. You've just got to keep plugging away, hit the top of off stump, and we did pretty well today."

After what happened to England at Multan, Flintoff was making no predictions about the final day's play, other than it would be tough work. "We've got to fight for one more day, and we still need four wickets so the boys have got to hit their straps straight away. On that fifth day at Multan we didn't play our best cricket, and it's important we finish strongly now, starting tomorrow morning."

There was no doubt, however, that whatever target England are eventually set, they would be going for the win. "We're 1-0 down in a series, we have to," said Flintoff. "Out here the cricket is so tough that any opportunity to win the game you're got to go for it. But we can't get ahead of ourselves."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo