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Pietersen in Smith's sights

cricket Updated: Jun 27, 2008 18:22 IST

AFP
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South Africa captain Graeme Smith has no doubt that Kevin Pietersen will represent the key wicket during his side's upcoming Test and one-day series against England.

South Africa-born Pietersen has yet to play a Test against the Proteas.

He quit the land of his birth to pursue a career with England in protest at a racial quota policy he felt was blocking his chances with Natal.

Pietersen's very public criticisms of the system sparked an angry response in South Africa with Smith saying: "I'm patriotic about my country, and that's why I don't like Kevin Pietersen."

For his part, the Hampshire and England batsman labelled Smith "a muppet".

And just to add extra spice there is now a chance that Pietersen could be captaining England in the one-day series with the Proteas.

Pietersen will lead England for the first time in Saturday's one-day international against New Zealand, with Paul Collingwood serving the first of a four-game ban for his side side's slow over-rate at The Oval on Wednesday.

That ban will still be in force when the first ODI against South Africa takes place at Headingley on August 22.

Pietersen is unlikely to have endeared himself to South Africans by saying of his promotion: "Captaining England has been a dream of mine ... To be asked to captain your country is the ultimate honour in sport and I feel privileged and proud to have been asked to lead the side tomorrow."