Lions den awaits prodigal son

2009-04-17 18:20
Kevin Pietersen (File)

Cape Town - England batsman Kevin Pietersen returns to South Africa for his first taste of the Indian Premier League (IPL) knowing many from his homeland are unlikely to welcome him with open arms.

Since choosing to represent England instead of his country of birth and citing selection 'politics' as his reason for leaving South Africa, the controversial 28-year-old has been unpopular here.

Now he returns as captain of Bangalore Royal Challengers, and local fans will have a difficult decision to make when the Vijay Mallya-owned franchise face Rajasthan Royals at Newlands Saturday.

While South Africans will be tempted to jeer the Pietersen-led outfit, Bangalore have several home favourites in their ranks, including Dale Steyn, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis and new star Roelof van der Merwe.

Competition rules restrict teams to selecting four non-Indians and this means only some of the Proteas will be in the side, but their presence in the Bangalore squad could cause friction.

Pietersen's relationship with South African players has been tumultuous, notably when he first played for England here in a one-day series four years ago.

Tensions have eased since and there was little friction when South Africa toured England last year.

However, with a sell-out crowd confirmed for the opening IPL double-header, a feisty reception awaits Pietersen and his every move on the field will be closely watched.

He also has plenty to prove to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after they axed him as captain this year when his disapproval of then coach Peter Moores was made public.

Read more on:    indian premier league

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