Under-fire Strauss shrugs off captaincy talk

Colombo: England`s Andrew Strauss insisted today that he would fight on as captain and battle through his batting slump as the team look for a series-levelling win in the final Test against Sri Lanka.

Strauss`s world number one side face a must-win situation at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo tomorrow after losing the opening game of the two-match series in Galle by 75 runs.

It was England`s fourth consecutive defeat in Asia this year following the 3-0 rout by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. They must win in Colombo to avoid falling to second spot in the world rankings behind South Africa.

"We desperately want to win this Test match and make amends for what happened in Galle," said Strauss, who is himself struggling to score runs at the top of a fragile batting order.

"I am very sure we have the ability to do it, and that is what we will challenge ourselves to do in the next five days.”

"We have not been as consistent as we would like to be, and now we have this final chance and salvage something out of the winter and go into the summer with some momentum.

"I retain absolute faith in our players. You are not going to win every game you play. But if you retain faith, you will turn it around, especially when you have players of quality in your side, which I know we have."

Strauss has gone 23 innings without adding to his 19 Test centuries, and managed just one three-figure knock in his past 48 innings.

But the left-handed opener, who has averaged a poor 28.52 since his last century, denied he was thinking of resigning as captain to concentrate on his batting.

"I have not considered quitting the captaincy, and going into this game, it is not something that is on my mind," Strauss said.

"Obviously I want to score some runs, there is no doubt about that. But I am confident we have the material to do well in this Test. Everyone is motivated to show that we can play better than what we have done so far.”

"I am not distracted at all about my form. The challenge of leadership is that it is easy when everything is going well. But when it gets tough, it is important to show the right direction. I like that sort of challenge."

Asked how he planned to return to form, Strauss said: "It`s not rocket science. Watching the ball is a good starting point. Take time to get in and then convert the start into a big score."

England are undecided on their bowling combination after Stuart Broad returned home for assessment of a calf injury that he sustained in the first Test.

Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn are standing by to replace Broad, but both could play if England decide to drop spinner Monty Panesar and leave Samit Patel to share the spin attack with Graeme Swann.

"We have to work out how this wicket is going to play," Strauss said. There are a few permutations there and we have to see what is going to be best for us."


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