England were unable to make a much-needed breakthrough as Pakistan consolidated a slim first-innings advantage by moving to 50 without loss in their second innings at lunch on day four of the second Test in Faisalabad.
The tourists need to somehow engineer a victory here to stay in with a chance of an unlikely seventh consecutive series success, on this three-match tour.
They were indebted to last pair Stephen Harmison and Shaun Udal for burgling 47 runs together this morning to sneak up to 446 all out and a deficit of only 16 – but the pace attack then drew a blank
as Pakistan openers Salman Butt and Shoaib Malik booked in with intent on a pitch which still strongly favoured the batsmen.
Harmison, held back as first change, came closest to taking a wicket when he found Malik’s forward-defensive edge with his first delivery only to see the ball bisect first slip and wicketkeeper for a streaky boundary.
Pakistan were otherwise untroubled in their second innings of a match in which a draw has been the most likely outcome from the outset.
England had looked likely to finish awkwardly behind on first innings after losing their eighth and ninth wickets for the addition of only eight runs today as Shahid Afridi threatened to make short work of the tail.
Ashley Giles was stuck on a leg-stump line when Afridi (four for 95) knocked out middle with a quick leg-break, and then Matthew Hoggard paid for his unaccustomed adventure – playing a shot in anger for once – as he dragged a delivery from outside leg on to his stumps via his forearm.
Udal was therefore joined by last man Harmison and decided rightly to take on Shoaib Akhtar while he could, snatching 16 bonus runs in one over – among them one mistimed hook for four and another right out of the middle for six.
Harmison got the idea against the spin of Afridi and Danish Kaneria, producing some clever cricket shots.
It was a passage of play which must have infuriated Pakistan – especially when Rana Naved-ul-Hasan dropped Udal in the deep off Kaneria – and there was a touch of relief about their celebrations when a run-out mix-up over a single finally brought Harmison’s wicket.