Deccan Chargers batsman Kumar Sangakkara plays a shot during the IPL Twenty20 cricket match between Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils at The Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi. AFP PHOTO/ MANAN VATSYAYANA
Had he not been traded before this Indian Premier League season began, Kevin Pietersen would have been playing for Deccan Chargers. On Thursday, he paid back in kind, smashing the second century of IPL V against the winless Hyderabad team to take Delhi Daredevils to the top of the table.
The lanky England batsman showed again why he is one of the most feared players, staying calm to smash an unbeaten 103 as the hosts overcome hiccups to chase down 157 with five wickets and five balls to spare.
Though his innings was littered with chances - he was left off on 6, 68 and 94 - it included some breathtaking shorts, including nine hits over the boundary line.
His innings was a perfect example of how to master the moment. Even though he was dropped, and missed some, he continued to take calculated risks. "I got a few chances in the middle but today was my day and I made it count," he said.
Pietersen came to bat after his team had lost opener Naman Ojha and skipper Virender Sehwag cheaply. Even Mahela Jayawardene didn't stay long, but he built with important partnerships, first with Ross Taylor and then with Yogesh Nagar.
He was not even averse to playing second fiddle to Nagar, who at times looked to attack more. "You have to do this, sometimes your partner is hitting the ball well and you just have to stay there, but I too did my bit," Pietersen joked.
He did more than his bit after Daredevils were a shaky four for 65 on a pitch where it was important to carry on once a batsman settled down.
Although left-arm spinner Shabaz Nadeem had provided another splendid example of his bowling to snare three wickets, the Chargers fought back.
Six of Pietersen's sixes came off spinners Amit Mishra and part-timer JP Duminy.
One off South African Duminy was the shot of the match as it soared to the top tier on the straight boundary.
The Deccan Chargers began strongly but Jharkhand spinner Nadeem continued his splendid form to bring Delhi back in the game.
Till the halfway mark in the innings, they looked in charge as openers Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel never looked in any trouble, adding 71 runs for the second wicket.
However, in the tenth over, Nadeem trapped Dhawan in front of the wicket. In his next over, he removed Patel, after he had escaped in the previous off a no-ball by Umesh Yadav.
Duminy then became Nadeem's third victim, caught by Sehwag trying to flick. The batsmen who followed couldn't contribute much as Morne Morkel kept it tight to grab the purple cap as the league's leading wicket-taker.
"He (Nadeem) got us back in the game," KP said. "Before the tournament, people said we don't have a spinner. Look, now we have a little super star. I have faced him in the nets. He uses the loop well and is a very difficult bowler, especially in these conditions."