Strauss cautions against Pakistan letdown

Published: Thursday, August 3, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Leeds:England captain Andrew Strauss told his side they must maintain the standards they'd set for themselves at Old Trafford if they also wanted to win the third Test against Pakistan starting at Headingley here Friday.

England's crushing innings and 120-run second Test victory, completed inside three days at Old Trafford, left them 1-0 up in the four-match encounter and on the brink of a series victory.

"I'm always wary of the match after games like that because it's easy psychologically to take your foot off the gas a little bit and that is something we need to address and make sure doesn't happen to us this week," Strauss told reporters at Headingley here Thursday.

"If you are in form you need to get hundreds and likewise if you are in form with the ball it's a great time to take a 'five-for'."

England's last visit to Headingley, just over a month ago, saw them go down to an eight-wicket, One-day hammering by Sri Lanka, who completed a 5-0 series rout after a world record opening stand of 286 between Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga.

Strauss, who captained England throughout that series in the absence of the injured Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff, admitted: "That was a pretty bleak day and the drive back to London that evening.

"But we take a lot of heart and a lot of confidence from what went on at Old Trafford," the opening batsman added.

"Winning a Test match without Fred (Flintoff) was important for us just to prove to ourselves and others that there is life without Fred."

England have scored six individual hundreds in two Tests against Pakistan this series with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell each twice reaching three figures.

Cook, 21, has now scored three hundreds in his first seven Tests including 104 not out on debut against India in Nagpur in March when he was flown in as a late replacement from the A team's tour of the West Indies.

"Cook's success hasn't really surprised me," said Strauss of his fellow left-hander, "because I saw how he played on his debut and that said a lot about the guy.

"Although he's a young player he's got an old head on those shoulders and a pretty good technique as well."

Ashes-winning captain Vaughan may have already been ruled out of the return series in Australia starting in November because of his knee injury, but that hasn't stopped Strauss from picking the brains of the Yorkshire batsman, who turned up on crutches at Headingley on Friday.

"He's been a playing here for Yorkshire here this season and got first-hand knowledge of the pitch," Strauss explained.

"He's always been on the end of a phone for me. I'm not ringing him every day but if there are issues that are playing on my mind and Duncan's (England coach Duncan Fletcher's) mind he's a good man to talk to because he's experienced it all and generally comes out with some pretty sound advice.

Meanwhile Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer remained coy about the composition of his team. "We are going to play six batsmen, one wicket-keeper and four bowlers. But until we tell the players we won't tell you.

"We'll have to play very differently and we need to win this Test to stand a chance of winning this series," former England all-rounder Woolmer added.

"We can bounce back, we have got a reputation for doing that. The team are very determined. They were stung badly by that last performance."

England have seen their spinners take just one wicket in the last 10 years of Headingley Tests but Strauss said emerging left-armer Monty Panesar, who played a key role with five for 72 in the second innings at Old Trafford, including five of Pakistan's top six, could be a threat in this match too.

"The Old Trafford wicket, there was quite a lot in it for Monty and he exploited it fantastically.

"But the one thing he has shown in his short career is the ability to keep batsmen quiet and do a supporting role for the seamers.

"If he does that, there's no reason why he can't pick up a few wickets by stopping people scoring."

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