Pietersen out to keep spirits high
Kevin Pietersen will embark on a two-day campaign to lift England's spirits to prevent more defeats against India in the final three matches of their one-day series.
Yesterday's 19-run defeat at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in the rain-affected fourth match of the series in Bangalore confirmed India's series win with another victory over the tourists.
It has left England searching for answers about how to restrict India’s free-scoring batsmen to prevent their series defeat affecting the Test series.
But captain Pietersen's first role when they arrive in Cuttack today in preparation for Wednesday's next match will be to remind the players of the magnitude of playing cricket in India.
"We're in India and we've still got a Test series to come,” said Pietersen. “What better place to play cricket than a place where cricket is a religion?
"The boys have been treated well, they've been having a fantastic time and I want their chins up.
“I don't want to see anybody with their heads down and moping around - we want to come back firing on all cylinders on Wednesday."
Chasing an adjusted target of 198 after India scored 166 for four with Virender Sehwag hammering 69 off 57 balls in a match reduced to 22 overs a side by several rain interruptions, England were restricted to 178 for eight in reply.
An 82-run stand off 48 balls between Owais Shah and Andrew Flintoff put them back in contention before both fell in successive overs.
“I think the boys gave it a real good run for the money,” said Pietersen.
“Owais Shah batted really well today and Freddie helped him out with some good contributions.”
Pietersen remains confident England can finish the series strongly and halt India's impressive form this winter.
"We've got to bounce back and make sure we keep this series competitive - we're going to hold our heads up high and get on with trying to win some games of cricket," he stressed.
"India played fantastic cricket, they played with a lot of freedom, without any fear and with a lot of confidence after beating Australia.
"They had more overs of the powerplay than we did but that's not why we lost a game of cricket today.
"Somebody in the India line-up tends to come out and do us. Yuvraj (Singh) has done us on occasions and when Virender Sehwag bats like that it's great to watch but when you're the opposing captain it's very hard work."
Now India have already secured the series, they are expected to rest some of their senior players in advance of the two-Test series.
Left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh may take a well-earned rest but Sehwag, who has scored half-centuries in three of the four matches in the series, would prefer to continue playing while he is in a rich vein of form.
"I'd like to carry on playing in all the matches while I'm hitting the ball well," he said.
"I will carry on playing if I can. But if the selectors want to look at younger players looking ahead to the 2011 World Cup then that's fine as well."