Win it for Flintoff says Harmison

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The Independent Online

England fast bowler Steve Harmison has called upon his colleagues to complete Test victory for all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

Andrew Strauss' team require seven wickets on the final day at the Antigua Recreation Ground to level the series at 1-1 but are unlikely to be able to call upon Flintoff to any great degree.

Flintoff, 31, is hampered by a sore right hip which required an anti-inflammatory injection on Wednesday and he managed just three overs at a reduced speed yesterday evening as West Indies, set an improbable 503-run victory target, closed on 143 for three.

This latest injury niggle comes only a fortnight after Flintoff passed a fitness test on a side strain to begin the series, and is a concern ahead of back-to-back Tests in Barbados and Trinidad.

"There is a good medical team with us and if they thought he was doing serious damage they would have hauled him off," Harmison said.

"All I know is he is in a bit of pain and it would be nice to do this for him because, although he has not carried our bowling line-up, he has been our man to go to.

"He deserves the other lads to pitch up and get seven wickets for him.

"It shows you the character of the man that he went out on the field to give it his all for England.

"In those situations - I have been there before - you are basically bowling for your mates.

"Just bowling those three overs gave others a rest and he has to take a lot of credit for that - even just going out there for a length of time to stand in the field."

Flintoff was introduced into the attack for the 23rd over of the innings but was nowhere near the level of ferocity he reached in the first innings.

Harmison, meanwhile, has also been under the weather, suffering from sickness since the third morning.

"I was at death's door yesterday, struggling after about five balls," Harmison confirmed. "The first time I went off I was sick and after that the heat got to me.

"The combination of the two completely did me and I didn't even do the warm-ups this morning.

"I have not eaten a lot in the last couple of days, which has been difficult for me."

Harmison made the initial inroad, however, when he pinned opener Devon Smith back on his stumps.

That began a clatter of three wickets in 10 overs as off-spinner Graeme Swann outfoxed the dangerous Chris Gayle for a sixth success of the match and Ryan Hinds tamely drove to mid-on off Stuart Broad.

But two of West Indies' big guns Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul negotiated the final hour without further mishap.

"We are confident we can do it but there are two fine players at the wicket," said Harmison.

"The big thing for us will be to get one of those two early in the morning and put pressure on the other one because they are - along with Chris Gayle - the mainstays of West Indies' batting.

"I can't believe how well this pitch has played; it is a flat wicket but there is definitely a demon in there.

"The bowlers can look silly at times because they're ploughing away on an area and it looks simple for the batters.

"But if you stay patient on those lines and lengths, there is a demon in there, and every now and again the ball does something."

Gayle, who struck a controlled 46, said: "It is in England's favour at this moment in time but we have two experts at the crease.

"The guys can do it, nobody is saying it is going to be easy but I hope they will get the job done."