Fletcher writes off chances of saving series in Pakistan

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The Independent Online

England were resigned last night to losing the series against Pakistan after taking only one wicket on the third day of the third Test. The home side were 158 runs ahead with five wickets left, leaving the tourists with a task to win and level the series that would make regaining the Ashes seem a doddle.

England's only reward was gained by debutant fast bowler, Liam Plunkett, who had nightwatchman Shoaib Akhtar belatedly caught at cover. Mohammad Yousuf, making his first hundred since converting to Islam, and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal then shared an unbroken partnership of 199, the highest for Pakistan's sixth wicket against England.

The tourists' coach, Duncan Fletcher, said: "To be realistic we can't win this match. All we can do is get stuck in and bat properly. We didn't make enough in our first innings. After the fantastic start that Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan gave us we should have made 450 to 500."

England came to Pakistan as favourites for the Test series after their Ashes triumph and seemed set to justify their new status after outplaying the opposition throughout the First Test. But they received a rude awakening in failing to make the 198 runs they required, lost by 22 and will now do well to avoid going 2-0 down.