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Switch-hitting Pietersen stuns Shah

Owais Shah has no plans to copy the switch-hitting exploits of Kevin Pietersen despite seeing his "freak" of an England team-mate strike two sixes batting 'left-handed'.
By Julian Guyer | AFP, Chester-le-street
UPDATED ON JUN 17, 2008 07:48 PM IST

Owais Shah has no plans to copy the switch-hitting exploits of Kevin Pietersen despite seeing his "freak" of an England team-mate strike two sixes batting 'left-handed'.

Pietersen, who twice turned round to middle the stunning blows off medium-pacer Scott Styris during a superb innings of 110 not out in the first one-day international against New Zealand here Sunday, may not have many more chances for such improvisation.

The legitimacy of Pietersen's 'reverse slog sweep' is to be debated at a meeting of MCC, cricket's law-makers, at Lord's on Tuesday.

Critics such as former England captain Michael Atherton say the shot gives batsmen an unfair advantage over bowlers, who must tell the umpire with which hand they will be delivering the ball or risk being penalised.

But Shah, whose rapid 49 off 25 balls with three sixes and four fours, helped power England to a total of 307 for five, is unconcerned by issues of cricketing legality.

The talented Middlesex batsman just doesn't fancy his chances of copying Pietersen, who also struck his fair share of conventional boundaries during his first one-day international century in England.

"It was a wonderful innings by Kev to get the right balance between orthodox and very unorthodox," said Shah, who helped Pietersen add 73 in just 35 balls in a match England went on to win by a huge margin of 114 runs.

"There were some unbelievable shots, but he's just a freak," said Shah, who on Sunday's evidence has no need to play anyone else's game.

"I'll leave that all to him because I don't know if I could do that - I just try to play with a straight bat."

Pietersen also won support from an unlikely source in New Zealand batsman Daniel Flynn.

"I don't see why he should be restricted in playing it so fair play to him," said the left-hander. "I've tried hitting right-handed shots myself but I can't hit them as well as that."

He added: "I'm left-handed in nearly everything I do - golf, cricket everything except kicking a ball - so I appreciate how good a shot that was.

"You have to give him credit because it was a great shot and he's obviously worked on it and it came off for him."

Flynn admitted New Zealand were still some way from going for reverse hits during the remainder of their five-match one-day series with England, which continues at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

"The way cricket is going, improvisation is going to be the key and if you're capable of doing it, it's going to make it hard for the opposition to set fields to you and bowl to you," he explained.

"I think it's one of those things you have to really work on at practice and once you've built your confidence up enough you can bring it into the game.

"I'm not sure the guys are quite up to it just yet, but I'm sure some of them will get there."

Flynn's caution was shared by leading British bookmaker William Hill, who believe hard-hitting New Zealand opener Brendon McCullum is the only member of the Black Caps squad capable of matching Pietersen's feat of a reverse six.

"Pietersen on song is a breathtaking sight and it will be interesting to see if the shot becomes a regular fixture," said Hills spokesman Rupert Adams, whose firm have the South Africa-born batsman at 7/2 to repeat his Riverside exploits at Edgbaston.

"The only New Zealander who we think could emulate KP is McCullum who we are offering 11/2 to show that whatever Pietersen can do, he can do better."

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