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Pietersen salvages English pride

Pietersen belts 90 off 86 balls as England beat West Indies by three wickets, reports G Krishnan. Scoreboard

india Updated: Oct 29, 2006 00:29 IST
G Krishnan

In a tournament dominated by bowlers, Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and later Kevin Pietersen made it a batsmen's day out in Motera on Saturday.

Gayle and Bravo struck the first centuries in the ICC Champions Trophy main-draw - Gayle first, followed by Bravo - to power West Indies to 272 for four.

Pietersen overshadowed their feat with an 86-ball 90 to guide the win-thirsty England home by three wickets and return home with some reputation salvaged.

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. This, after they finished with a Net Run Rate of +0.01. Either India, with +0.89 or Australia (+0.51) will top Group 'A' and the winner will proceed to Mohali to face New Zealand in the November 1 semis.

England might have avenged the 2004 Champions Trophy final defeat at the hands of the West Indies but the victory came very late.

Pietersen, himself going through a dry spell on this trip, signed off in splendid style, going about his manner of finding boundaries at will even as he lost partners at the other end. Sixteen runs were scored in the crucial 47th over sent down by Jerome Taylor.

It included a roaring shot by Pietersen through point followed in the next over by a flowing cover drive through the gaps. That signalled the Caribbeans' doom.

The South Africa-born 26-year-old drove the final nail into the coffin with a six off Dwayne Bravo in the last ball of the 48th over.

Sajid Mahmood, who did not have a good day with the ball though he emerged the most successful, picked up a boundary at square leg off Jerome Taylor to seal the victory with nine balls to spare. The undefeated eighth-wicket partnership between Mahmood and Pietersen was worth 44 from just 23 balls.

The England innings, which gathered heat with the 82-run partnership between Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell, lost momentum after the left-hander perished to Gayle for 50.

Gayle seemed to turn everything he touched into gold. Named Man of the Match for his all-round show, he provided two more breakthroughs. He dislodged Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood. However, Pietersen had different things in mind.

Raw deal for Yardy?

Michael Yardy's dismissal, from a catch at long-on by Dwayne Bravo off off-spinner Marlon Samuels, again raised the question about the use of technology by umpires in international cricket.

While it seemed to the naked eye that the catch was just about taken, replays showed that the ball had bounced before Bravo cupped it with both hands. While Yardy walked off the field, it was for the umpires, Simon Taufel in particular, to verify with the third umpire - Aleem Dar - if the catch was legitimate.

First Published: Oct 28, 2006 14:09 IST