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Pietersen can handle South Africa: England coach

"When he plays them, he is really motivated which is a positive for us," says England coach Duncan Fletcher

india Updated: Apr 15, 2007 23:46 IST

England coach Duncan Fletcher is convinced his South Africa born player Kevin Pietersen will be able to handle the pressure from the crowds when England and the Proteas meet on Tuesday for a Super Eight match of the World Cup at the Kensington Oval.

Fletcher said that the flamboyant batsman is well equipped mentally to handle all that will be thrown at him on and off the field.

"When he plays them, he is really motivated which is a positive for us," Fletcher said on Saturday.

"South Africa motivates him just as much as Australia, probably more than Australia. I hope it drives him to put on one of those batting performances."

The 26-year-old Pietersen was born in Pietermaritzburg, but walked out of the system after he felt he was being discriminated against. He then qualified to play for England and has become the team's leading batsman.

When he first toured South Africa with England two years ago, the crowds subjected him to constant abuse, but he hit three centuries.

Pietersen is the No 1 batsman in the one-dayers and has made 1,923 runs in 49 matches at an average of 56.55 and strike rate of 91. In the World Cup so far, he has made 341 runs at an average of 56.83.

Speaking at the team hotel, Fletcher said that his team will be out to exploit weaknesses in the South African team, and acknowledged that they have depth in the batting.

"The biggest threat is their batting depth," he said. "You are never really going to win comfortably against them the way they bat. But they haven't got that spinner which can be their downfall to some degree."

"It's crucial at this stage we don't tinker too much," said Fletcher, who was born in Zimbabwe and captained them at the 1983 World Cup.

"We appreciate it is a very, very important game."

A victory for either side would enhance their chances of reaching the semi-finals.

First Published: Apr 15, 2007 19:39 IST