x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pietersen proud of men

Kevin Pietersen insisted his side should be "really proud of themselves" after battling to a draw in the final Test but losing the series to India.

MOHALI // Kevin Pietersen insisted his side should be "really proud of themselves" after battling to a draw in the final Test but losing the series to India at the PCA Stadium. Set an unlikely victory target of 403 from a minimum of 43 overs on the final afternoon, the two sides shook hands on a draw with England on 64-1 with 15 overs still remaining.

The draw rewards England for their determination in avoiding their third defeat in the last four Tests although they have lost five of the last eight Test series. But the captain Pietersen, who led his team back to India to play the Test series in the aftermath of the terror attacks on Mumbai, believes his side should take credit for their performances given the distracted build-up to the two Tests.

"This doesn't feel as bad as what a defeat normally is," admitted Pietersen. "We can take a lot of positives from these last two weeks. "We've come here to solely concentrate on cricket with hardly any preparation in white clothing and red ball, against such a great side who are playing great cricket and on top of their game. "I think we competed really well and our boys can be really proud of themselves.

"India are playing fantastic, confident cricket at the moment, playing without any fear and they are on top of their game." Pietersen played a leading role in persuading the squad to return to India after they flew back to England immediately after the Mumbai attacks without playing the two remaining matches in the one-day series. He believes his efforts during several meetings in Abu Dhabi, where England trained in preparation for the Test series, were justified by the reaction England received since their return. "I feel really proud to be captain of a bunch of guys who we brought here," he said. "We brought everyone who was picked and the boys have behaved like great ambassadors. They have been fantastic, the Indian people have been magnificent. For us to come back here and play Test cricket in front of people who are religious about the job you love, there's nothing better. For the pure fact of playing here, there is nothing more fun or more enjoyable."

Pietersen also claimed his running war of words with Yuvraj Singh, which resulted in him labelling him a "pie-chucker" and accusing him of bowling "left-arm filth", was all part of the enjoyment in the series. It's been fun banter, it's been enjoyable," he added. "We are two strong characters playing for our country and to have a bit of a joke and a bit of banter doesn't do anybody any harm. "At end of the day we shook each other's hands and I told him how fantastically he batted today.

"The man is one of the cleanest strikers of a ball in world cricket - the sixes that man hits leave me dumbfounded. "He is a special, special talent. To have a bit of a laugh, a bit of a joke, sometimes you get a bit of red mist and you have a bit of argument on the field, but that just happens - that's what happens when people are so committed to playing for their nation." * With agencies