There was a real hunger to win, says Strauss

Published: Wednesday, August 9, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Leeds:England captain Andrew Strauss said his side had "settled a score with ourselves," after they wrapped up their first Test series win since last year's Ashes triumph with a conclusive defeat of Pakistan.

England's 167-run win on the final day of third Test at Headingley was good enough to give them the four-match series 2-0 after they'd crushed Inzamam-ul-Haq's men by an innings and 120 runs in the second match of the series at Old Trafford.

After the euphoria of the Ashes, England came back down to earth a few months later when they were beaten 2-0 in a three-Test series in Pakistan.

"We had a score to settle with ourselves," opening batsman Strauss told reporters. "We didn't play as well as we should have done in Pakistan.

"We back ourselves when we play well to beat just about any side in the world and I felt there was real hunger to win about this England team over the last three Test matches.

"In a close-fought game like this it comes down to your ability to handle pressure and I think the guys did that very well."

England, despite scoring 515, found themselves behind on first innings after Pakistan piled up 538 featuring hundreds from Mohammad Yousuf (192) and Younis Khan (173).

But Strauss, captain in the absence of the injured Michael Vaughan (knee) and Andrew Flintoff (ankle), led from the front with 116 in England's second innings 345.

That left Pakistan needing 323 for victory.

But the tourists never looked like getting anywhere near the imposing target.

Instead they were bowled out for 155 with fast bowler Sajid Mahmood, the son of Pakistani immigrants, taking a Test best four for 22 and left-arm spinner Monty Panesar three wickets in an innings for the second time this match.

"Fred (Flintoff) is a big hole in this team," said Strauss of the talismanic all-rounder after Tuesday's triumph. "We knew all 11 of us would have to stand up and be counted if we were to win this series and the guys have responded excellently to that."

Panesar, who took eight wickets at Old Trafford to go with his six in this match, is fast becoming a central figure in the England team.

Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer said the run out of Mohammad Yousuf, who made 192 in the first innings, for just eight had been the turning point Tuesday.

But, just as importantly for England's cause, Panesar bowled Younis Khan - who scored 173 first time around - for 41 with a classic left-armer spinner's delivery which pitched on middle and hit off.

"Monty's done everything that's been asked of him so far," said Strauss of the 24-year-old Northamptonshire bowler, the first Sikh to play Test cricket for England.

"And in this Test match, on a wicket that wasn't as helpful as Old Trafford, he did a first-rate job. With every game he plays for England he looks more settled in the side and will get better and better."

Panesar, who has played nine Tests, has so far taken 16 wickets this series at an impresisve average of 25.75.

Although England coach Duncan Fletcher has so far been grudging in his praise, his admiring Pakistan counterpart Bob Woolmer said: "I think Monty is a class act."

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