|Event:||Pakistan in British Isles 2006|
DateLine: 4th September 2006
Pakistan vice-captain Younis Khan believes the team are stronger in the wake of the fourth Test forfeiture which rocked international cricket.
Pakistan have bounced back from the Oval controversy, where they were embroiled in a ball-tampering row, to win the Twenty20 international against England and take a 1-0 lead in the five-match one-day series.
"After losing the Test series 3-0 we were very down and we saw the one-day series as a good chance for us to return to Pakistan with a victory," Younis told bigstarcricket.com on Sunday.
"It's never much fun going back to Pakistan having lost a Test series AND a one-day series - so we are definitely not relaxing at the moment."
There is no shortage of motivation anyway for a team generally thought to be among the leading contenders to win the World Cup in the Caribbean next spring.
But the ball-tampering furore - board chairman Shaharyar Khan described the ruling as a "slur" on team and country - has brought even more focus.
"One thing that helped bring us even closer together was the controversy at The Oval," said Younis.
The Oval drama has led to umpire Darrell Hair, who penalised Pakistan five runs in that ill-fated Test, offering to resign in exchange for 500,000 dollars, an amount revealed in a bizarre exchange of e-mails between the Australian official and the ICC.
"Ultimately that kind of thing is not good for cricket, and we regret the fact the match was unable to be finished," said Younis.
"We were in a good position, and also the crowd wanted to see two good teams complete the match. The whole thing is no good for cricket, no good for Darrell Hair, no good for the Pakistan team, no good for Inzy (skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq) and no good to the England team. But it's happened now - and nobody knows what will come next."
Younis has been struck, however, by that positive effect on Pakistan morale.
"Inside the team, we became even closer after that incident," he said.
"Team spirit was good anyway, but the unity was there even more after that match. We are very united. After that we really backed our captain."
Younis now wants Pakistan to demonstrate their ability by sweeping the remainder of the three day one-dayers starting at The Rose Bowl in Southampton on Tuesday.
"We are keen to give our passionate fans something to cheer about," he said.
"That is our main goal - we must win it. We are in the world's top three in both Test and one-day cricket, so we are in good shape. Another win in this series would see us getting closer to Australia."
(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)