DUBAI // Misbah-ul-Haq, the understated captain of international cricket's most maverick team, insists his side have sent a message to the rest of the world that Pakistan are back.
The Pakistanis clinched a series whitewash for the first time against England at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium yesterday, when Abdur Rehman set the seal on a 71-run win by dismissing Monty Panesar.
"It was a big ask for a team who had come out of such problems," said Misbah, who has led a quiet revival of his national team from the wreckage of the 2010 spot-fixing scandal.
"The way the team is progressing is wonderful. Everybody was ignoring Pakistan cricket, and saying a lot of things about the team.
"I think this showed the world again that we are a power in the cricketing world. Now is the time to give importance to the Pakistan cricket team."
Misbah said he had expected England's batsmen to struggle on the slow pitches of the Emirates.
However, the nature of the three wins - by margins of 10 wickets, 72 runs and 71 runs - had surprised him, given they were playing the top ranked Test side in the world.
"I just can't describe in words how important this series was for us," said Misbah, who has now won nine and lost just one of his 15 Test matches at the helm.
"England are the top team in the world. We were just looking ahead to perform well against them, and I am really pleased with how they played.
"It is a really big thing for Pakistan. After such a long time, a first series whitewash is a really wonderful achievement."
Mohsin Khan's claim to a full-time position as the coach of this side have only been strengthened by this clean sweep in their adopted homeland.
He was already looking ahead to future challenges last night, pointing out that his side must next prove themselves on foreign shores to consolidate their advance. "I think today is like a dream come true," Mohsin said. "It's not a very experienced team, not a world beater, but it's a very talented team and I have lot of faith in the captain.
"But we have to perform the same way when we play in Australia, South Africa or England. To become No 1 it's very important you perform all over the cricketing world."
The 3-0 series defeat means England could yet lose out on the US$175,000 (Dh642,000) prize for being the No 1-ranked Test team in the world on the April 1 cut off date.
If England's listless display on their first tour of the UAE has come as a shock, given the form they have showed over the past two years in this format.
Only Matt Prior, their wicketkeeper, has averaged more than 27 with the bat in the series, and Strauss acknowledged that changes may need to be made ahead of their next Test series in Sri Lanka.
"No one has got a right to play for England for ever - that is patently wrong," said Strauss, who will now hand over the captaincy reins to Alastair Cook for the forthcoming one-day international series.
"It is important we take a bit of time to let the dust settle, start thinking about what went wrong individually.
"I have great faith in our batsmen. I think they are some of the best batsmen in the world and I am disappointed we haven't coped better than we have."