ICC World Twenty20

KP wary ahead of SA clash

2010-05-07 09:58
Kevin Pietersen (AP)
Barbados - Kevin Pietersen seemed almost desperate to avoid tempting fate ahead of England's World Twenty20 clash with his native South Africa despite his match-winning role against Pakistan.

Pietersen's unbeaten 73 saw England cruise to a six-wicket win - their first in this tournament - over the defending champions at the Kensington Oval here on Thursday as they opened the second round Super Eights in some style.

After some mediocre displays, Pietersen found his form with a 52-ball innings featuring two sixes and eight fours in a total of 151 for four made in reply to Pakistan's 147 for nine.

With South Africa comfortably defeating New Zealand by 13 runs later on Thursday, the stage is set for the latest chapter of Pietersen's often fraught relationship with his homeland when England face the Proteas here on Saturday.

But while England captain Paul Collingwood and Pakistan coach Waqar Younis were piling on the plaudits, Pietersen praised England's bowlers.

"Anything can happen in Twenty20," said Pietersen.

"I could get out first ball (against South Africa) on Saturday," he said.

"It was nice, a nice wicket to bat on, and the boys bowled well.

"Then we chased down a real gettable total, which was great."

There was a scare for England when Pietersen needed on-pitch medical attention early in his innings after limping while attempting a run.

However, the Hampshire batsman insisted: "No concern - I just hit my bat on my ankle. It's bleeding a little bit, but no problem."

Pietersen could leave the Caribbean in the next 10 days to be with his wife in London where she is expecting the birth of the couple's first child.

He was adamant though that impending fatherhood would not distract from his cricket, saying: "If it's after the tournament that the baby comes, it's after the tournament

"If it's during the tournament, I'll still be giving it my best shot whenever I play for England - no matter where or in what situation."

England's batting has often failed to fire in all one-day cricket since the international retirement, several years ago now, of opener Marcus Trescothick.

But Pietersen, one of an all South Africa born England top three, though is enthused by the batting depth he believes the team can now command.

"I've played in the team for five or six years now, and to have a batting line-up like we've got at the moment is incredible," he said.

"Every single bloke from one down to nine or 10 can hit sixes. That's brilliant, a great improvement and great for English cricket.

"This is what I love doing; this is why I'm playing this tournament - because I want to play for England and win games for England.

"I'll play for England as long as I can."

It was a sentiment endorsed by Collingwood, who said: "It was a great knock by KP.

"We all know what KP can do, and when he's in that kind of form he's very dangerous. It was an exceptional innings.

"It needed someone to get past 50 today just to see the team home."

Former fast bowler Waqar was left lamenting poor Pakistan fielding that saw five catches dropped, but he still had a word for the man-of-the-match.

"You must give Kevin Pietersen credit for the way he played - he batted like a champion and took the game away from us.

"It can be very frustrating, the way we dropped the catches and the way we fielded. But we're not out of the tournament, so we don't really have to worry about that."

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