'We were caught cold and will have to knuckle down,' admits Strauss


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The Independent Online

Andrew Strauss warned his England players to heed the harsh lessons of their crushing defeat by Pakistan in the first Test before their chances of victory in the three-match series disappear.

England produced two weak batting performances and crumbled in three days for the first time since they were beaten by an innings at Headingley in the 2009 Ashes. Strauss admitted his team had been caught cold by a superb Pakistan bowling performance, of which Saeed Ajmal's match figures of 10 for 97 were the highlight.

Strauss accepted that some of England's batsmen had not knuckled down properly. They were due to hold a team meeting today to discuss the mistakes that brought about a 10-wicket loss, and as the second Test in Abu Dhabi begins next Wednesday, they must correct the problems quickly.

Strauss drew encouragement from last winter, when England were beaten by 267 runs at Perth before taking the following two Tests, at Melbourne and Sydney, by an innings.

But the captain knew this display had not been good enough: "It's important you don't run away from the truth. As batsmen we have to be honest and ask ourselves whether we played well enough. Was our game plan smart enough? Were we switched-on enough? We need to make sure we don't play the same type of cricket in the next Test.

"As a part of the England team, you have to be honest with yourself, and make sure you ask yourself the right questions and come up with the right answers. It's a chance to show our resilience and character, which I know we have in abundance.

"In both innings, we didn't apply ourselves as we should have done with the bat. The important thing is that batsmen are very clear about their methods, and that we use that feeling of disappointment as motivation to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"We were caught off guard in the first session of the first day on a flat wicket and from then, Pakistan were always in front and never let us back in. You have to congratulate them for the way they played but we're disappointed with the way we batted in both innings, primarily the first innings."

For all England's flaws, Pakistan were outstanding. Only 17 months after the spot-fixing scandal at Lord's, which resulted in former captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir receiving custodial sentences, they have become a durable team under captain Misbah-ul-Haq.

Ajmal did the damage with seven wickets in England's first innings, and after Pakistan had established a lead of 146, Umar Gul led the way when England batted again, removing Strauss, Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott during a burst of sustained hostility.

"We are trying to be one of the best teams in the world," said Misbah. "It was a wonderful performance from our bowlers, and it was top-class bowling that made the England batsmen make mistakes. For Saeed to get 10 wickets in the match against the No 1 team was fantastic. It was a good track if you applied yourself as a batsman.

"We had not expected it to be so easy for us, but we know England can come back at any time. Since 2010, everyone wanted to prove that Pakistan were a good side in the world, and that has really motivated the team."

Ajmal's doosra drew criticism from former England captain Bob Willis, but Strauss said his team had no concerns about the off-spinner's bowling action. He suggested Ajmal's success was due as much to England's faults as the bowler's variations. "I don't think there is anything we should be unduly worried about, but we have to make sure we don't make those mistakes again in Abu Dhabi. A couple of us contributed to our own downfall and that allowed him to exert more pressure during the first innings. The players who did spend time at the wicket looked fairly comfortable, but not enough of us were able to do that. The first six to 18 balls will be tough, but the key for batsmen is not to give their wickets away, and we probably did that too much in this Test."

Timeline: How the third day unfolded

6.08am (UK time) Umar Gul, 0 (Pak 289-8): Eoin Morgan takes a catch at point from Stuart Broad.

6.52am Saeed Ajmal, 12 (319-9): Ajmal gloves Graeme Swann to short leg, dismissal upheld on review.

7.14am Adnan Akmal, 61 (338 all out): An easy stumping for Matt Prior. The lead is 146 runs.

7.50am Andrew Strauss, 6 (6-1): Strauss is caught down the leg side – a decision upheld to his surprise.

9.06am Alastair Cook, 5 (25-2): Like Strauss, Cook gloves Umar Gul down the leg side to Adnan Akmal.

9.20am Kevin Pietersen, 0 (25-3): An ugly, mistimed pull off Gul does for Pietersen.

9.43am Ian Bell, 4 (35-4): Bell wastes a review after being clearly trapped by Saeed Ajmal.

10.36am Eoin Morgan, 14 (74-5): A thin edge to the keeper off Abdur Rehman's spin.

11.32am Jonathan Trott, 49 (87-6): The top scorer goes, edging behind off Gul.

11.38am Matt Prior, 4 (87-7): Prior has no answer to Ajmal, and is another LBW victim.

12.26pm Stuart Broad, 17 (135-8): Attempting to hit Rehman for six, Broad finds only the man at long-on.

12.29pm Chris Tremlett, 0 (135-9): A first-ball duck, as Hafeez catches well at first slip.

12.59pm Graeme Swann, 39 (160 all out): Ajmal's 10th wicket comes from a leading edge.

1.26pm Pakistan 15-0: Mohammad Hafeez pulls Broad for four, Pakistan win by 10 wickets.