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Pietersen days are here again

On Saturday, in a tournament dominated by bowlers, Gayle, Bravo and later Pietersen made it the batsmen's day out, writes G Krishnan.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2006 18:04 IST
G Krishnan

Kevin Pietersen continues to live like a multi-millionaire among English cricketers. He has continued to excel in Indian conditions when the others struggled. He was the lone England batsman to come good in England's 6-0 drubbing in India earlier this year.

On Saturday in the Champions Trophy in Motera, when England needed to chase 273 against the West Indies to keep their pride intact, Pietersen took up the challenge with aplomb.

Thankfully for the 26-year-old South African-born, his unbeaten 90 did not go in vain. Of his nine half-centuries in 40 ODIs for England before Saturday, six came in a losing cause. Likewise with two of his three centuries.

On Saturday, in a tournament dominated by bowlers, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and later Pietersen made it the batsmen's day out. Gayle and Bravo struck the first centuries in the Champions Trophy main-draw — Gayle first, followed by Bravo — to power West Indies to 272 for four. Pietersen overshadowed their feat with his 86-ball 90 not out to guide the win-thirsty England home by three wickets.

In the semifinal, West Indies, who finished second in the Group 'A', will take on Group 'B' toppers South Africa in Jaipur on November 2. They finished with a Net Run Rate of +0.01.

The spectacular knock from Pietersen's broad Woodworm bat could not have come at a more appropriate time. His skipper Andrew Flintoff said at the end of the three-wicket win, "We were playing for pride, and pride is a huge thing. It is bigger than any cup and worth more than any cheque. The team's pride and personal pride was at stake. We went out there believing we could get that target and we got it in the end."

Making the impossible possible was Pietersen. The Hampshire professional had said during the team's India tour earlier this year that he enjoyed playing cricket for England. "I hate missing international matches," he had said.

Pietersen may not have won the Man of the Match award on Saturday - that honour went to Gayle - but Flintoff had praise for his match-winner.

"He was fantastic," Flintoff said. "We wanted someone to bat through and win a game. And Kevin did that with class.”