Team triumph thrills Pietersen

Pakistan England

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Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen spoke after England took a 3-0 lead in the ODI series

Kevin Pietersen's first one-day international hundred since 2008 is a personal victory - but means less to him than England's series win over Pakistan.

Pietersen's unbeaten 111, his first century since he made exactly the same score against India in Cuttack, helped carry England to victory by nine wickets at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium today.

He also shared an opening stand of 170 with Alastair Cook, who hit 80, as England made short work - just 37.2 overs' worth - of passing 222 all out to go 3-0 up with one match still to play.

Pietersen has now figured in stands of more than 50 in each of three attempts with the prolific Cook on his return to the top of the order.

But even after his poor run of form in England's 3-0 Test series defeat here, he baulked at the idea that his 93-ball century was the most pleasing aspect of the day for him.

"To win for England is the most important," he said.

Pietersen reserved his superlatives for England's achievement, a notable one against sub-continental opponents in Asia.

Kevin Pietersen

A contented Kevin Pietersen leaves the field in Dubai, having steered England to a series-clinching victory over Pakistan with a fine innings of 111 not out. "To win for England is the most important," he insisted

"We're 3-0 up as well," he said. "So it's a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant result for the lads.

"For an England team to come out here, where we don't generally win in one-day cricket - we got hammered in India - it is not very easy for us.

"For us to sit here 3-0 up in a four-match series is amazing. The boys are so happy in the dressing room."

As for the significance of his eighth ODI century, after such a long wait, he added: "I don't think I have to prove points. I don't need to do that. I just want to enjoy my career.

"I understand criticism. If I'm not playing well, criticise me - I don't mind. I've got very thick skin.

"I didn't know it was three-and-a-half years [since my last hundred], but it was a long time ago."

Pietersen could have been forgiven for some tense moments in the early stages of his innings.

Yet he said: "I was really calm. I had no issues; I've just got myself out, with bad decisions, got my leg across a couple. But luckily today, it worked.

"Hundreds are hard work in one-day cricket, very hard to get. There's a reason why not everybody just keeps getting hundreds."

Alastair Cook

Alastair Cook continued his exceptional run of form by contributing 80 to a stand of 170 with Pietersen. On falling narrowly short of a third successive hundred, the skipper said: "It wasn't meant to be."

Captain Cook fell just 20 runs short of becoming the first Englishman to make three successive ODI centuries.

Pietersen said of his new partner: "He's improved his [ODI] game ridiculously.

"Fair play to the bloke, he's turning himself into a very, very fine one-day cricketer."

Cook's opposite number Misbah-ul-Haq, meanwhile, was especially impressed by Pietersen.

"Full credit to him the way he played under a lot of pressure," he said.

"He was out of form, out of runs, and it's a great comeback. He's a wonderful player and he showed that."

Cook appeared only mildly disappointed to miss out on three figures again.

"When you get so close to a milestone, they don't come around very often," he said.

"To score three in a week would have been fantastic. But it wasn't meant to be, and to set up the win was even more important."

He and team director Andy Flower have identified Pietersen as a permanent force at the top of the order.

"It's great to see Kev score a hundred again today," Cook said.

"He does take the pressure off me generally, because you know he has a career strike rate of more than 85 - so he will always score runs quickly.

James Anderson, Misbah-ul-Haq, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad & Samit Patel

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who made only one today, paid tribute to Pietersen, saying: "He's a wonderful player and he showed that."

"If I can play my part, and crab a few as well, we get off to a good start. It's worked well, the first three attempts at it.

"I think the two new balls at either end has made us re-jig our strategy. Especially in England, you need proper techniques to survive that.

"We've made a decision now for Kev to open the batting. You can see the power and destruction he can cause at the top of the order."

Cook admits ODI success cannot erase memories of England's Test whitewash, but he is highly-encouraged by the reaction in adversity from those around him.

"We talked about our disappointment in the Test series, so we don't need to keep going over that," he said.

"What is great is that we showed a lot of character in our side to turn that round.

"When you lose three Test matches in a row, it's tough; when you go straight into a one-day series you could feel down on yourself. But the lads have picked themselves up, fronted up to the challenge and are delivering.

"It's a really satisfying victory for us. It doesn't mean we've learned all our lessons from (last October's 5-0 defeat in) India, but we've certainly made a step forward playing in these conditions."

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