Pakistan 462 & 268-9 dec England 446 & 164-6: Vaughan adopts positive spin as England survive to keep series alive

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The Independent Online

When Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles readily accepted the umpires' offer of bad light at 4.35pm local time, England were 164 for 6, still 121 runs short of an improbable target. The result leaves England needing to win the final Test in Lahore, starting on Tuesday, if they are to avoid losing a series for the first time in two years.

Winning in the Punjab capital is likely to be an even more difficult challenge than here, where 56 overs were lost to bad light and slow play. The pitch at the Gaddafi Stadium will be as unresponsive as that used here and the cricket is scheduled to start at 10am - 30 minutes later than in Multan or Faisalabad - even though the sun is likely to set at the same time.

"It is disappointing that our run of series wins has ended," admitted Vaughan. "But we still have an opportunity to draw the series and, when you come to this part of the world, a draw is not a disaster.

"We will always look back on the Multan game and realise we missed a huge opportunity to go 1-0 up, and we have to hope we create similar opportunities in Lahore. We created a few here on a very, very flat pitch, but it is sometimes hard to force the result, especially when you lose the toss.

"We don't need to improve that much in Lahore but we need to get in a position to win the game earlier. The toss could be crucial. If we can bat first in Lahore and make Pakistan chase the game, it might make a difference."

England began the final day 199 runs behind, and with the match nicely poised. Andrew Flintoff ran in hard and attempted to reproduce his heroics of the previous night, but he looked fatigued. Stephen Harmison took an early wicket but Inzamam-ul-Haq and the Pakistan tail gradually took the game out of England's reach.

The brilliant Inzamam rarely looked troubled during another exquisite display, and he declared once he had become the fifth Pakistan batsman to score a century in each innings of a Test match. The hundred was the 24th of his Test career and it took him past Javed Miandad.

A target of 285 in 64 overs was always going to be too much for England and the series would already be over but for defiant batting from Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles. Flintoff strode to the crease in the sixth over with his team 20 for 4. The aggression and pace of Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan had blown away the top order, and an inglorious defeat appeared inevitable.

The first task of Flintoff and Pietersen was to see off Shoaib. Initially, the pair lived on instinct but, as Shoaib tired, batting became a more pleasurable pastime. England opener Marcus Trescothick had misjudged the third legitimate ball he faced and lost his off stump but it was still a wonderful piece of fast bowling from Shoaib. The next dazzling example of the paceman's quality came when a superb slower ball almost outfoxed Vaughan.

The England captain somehow managed to keep the ball out, unlike Andrew Strauss in the previous over. Strauss has had a miserable Test series - he flies home to attend the birth of his first child today - scoring just 44 runs in four innings, and his mind may have been somewhere else when he bottom-edged a fullish ball from Rana on to his stumps.

Ian Bell cut wildly at Shoaib in the fifth over to give Kamran Akmal a simple catch and Vaughan was then trapped in front by Rana. This left England's destiny in the hands of Pietersen and Flintoff. Pietersen rode his luck, chipping the ball into a gap on more than one occasion, but Flintoff knuckled down and batted with purpose.

Neither player can completely resist the temptation to go for a big shot and Flintoff hoisted Danish Kaneria for six over long on. It took the tally of sixes in the match to 19, a total that has only been equalled in two previous Tests.

England fans know that Vaughan's side rarely play a dull Test and just when the game seemed to be heading towards a draw, Pietersen lobbed a simple catch to short midwicket.

Suddenly the pressure was back on England. Shoaib returned to the attack and began whistling down 90mph thunderbolts. At tea England were 107 for 5. Technically, there were still 33 overs left, but the way the days are structured here, England had about an hour and a half to bat before bad light intervened.

Now the time-wasting began. Gloves and drinks were called for regularly and on the couple of occasions a player was hit, the physio trotted out to fritter away further minutes.

Flintoff completed an atypical half-century before foolishly attempting to hook Shoaib with about 45 minutes of play remaining. Once again anxious faces appeared on England's balcony. But Shoaib was puffing hard by now and his removal from the attack ended the tribulations.

Vaughan can attempt to put a positive spin on England's predicament but he must know his side need to produce something very special in Lahore.