Harmison confident of England's win without Flintoff

England look likely to make their final push for victory in the third Test against West Indies Thursday's last day without Andrew Flintoff.

updated: February 19, 2009 13:10 IST
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St John's (Antigua):

England look likely to make their final push for victory in the third Test against West Indies Thursday's last day without Andrew Flintoff.

As England hunted quick runs in their second innings, Flintoff dropped down the batting order to nine, only to be dismissed for a duck to cop "a pair" in the Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

Flintoff then bowled only three overs when the West Indies started their chase of 503 for victory and was clearly struggling with a hip injury.

Steve Harmison, one of his closest friends on the England team, who is still trying to recover from a stomach bug, said the visitors owed a victory to Flintoff for the number of times he has bailed the side out.

"I'm not going to lie to you and say everything is all right because there's a problem there," Harmison said. "Hopefully, we can do it for him. He's been our 'go-to man' for long periods of time, but it's our chance to say thanks very much."

Flintoff is just coming to the end of a full year back in the game, following a foot injury that put him out for about the same amount of time.

England would hate to lose him again with the Ashes series against Australia just around the corner.

Harmison was not sure how serious was the injury to his teammate, but he hailed him for making an effort. "What the problem is I think we'll have to wait until the end of the match to find out," he said.

"Where he goes from here nobody knows, but hopefully he can be fit for the next Test in Barbados.

"But the big lad is in a bit of pain and it shows the character he has that he even attempted to go out on the field.

"I've been in those situations before. You are basically bowling for your mates to give the rest a bit of a rest. I imagine he'll be on the field [today], but he's in a bit of pain."

Harmison had first-hand knowledge about making a sacrifice and said he felt at "death's door" on Tuesday, when he was struck with a stomach ailment.

"The first time I went off I was sick and after that the heat did me," he said.

"It completely drained me. I didn't come out until lunch time. I was asleep on the floor.

"I didn't feel very strong out there. I've not eaten much in the last few days which for me is difficult." But Harmison was still confident that England could bowl West Indies out and claim a series-levelling victory.

"The way we have bowled in this series so far, sticking to our task, searching for reverse swing, and then we'll have a new ball before tea, I'm pretty confident we can do it," he said.

England trail 0-1 in the series which now comprises five Tests, following an innings and 23-run defeat in the opening Test at Kingston inside four days.

The other two Tests in the series take place at Kensington Oval in Barbados from February 26 to March 2, and Queen's Park Oval in Trinidad from March 6 to 10.