KP: My best one-day knock? Probably.
Kevin Pietersen can justifiably drink to his highest limited-overs international score, which he thinks is likely his best one-day innings.
Pietersen’s stylish 153-ball 130, including 12 fours and two sixes, underpinned a four-wicket win in Dubai and earned England a 4-0 whitewash.
Having struck an unbeaten 111 on Saturday, his first limited-overs century in more than three years, Pietersen has recent competition for the self-awarded accolade.
However, he said: “That’s probably the best one-day knock I have ever played.”
Like after Saturday’s series-clinching win, Pietersen paid tribute to England’s response to their 3-0 Test defeat.
“Four-nil is a pretty special end to a what’s been good series for us,” he added.
“It’s great for the team. The way the guys train, the way we tried to turn things around between the second and third Test, the batters were going to come into form.
“The cycle of life has it that you can’t always be good but you’ll come good at some stage. We’re firm believers of that and the guys have come good.”
During this rubber, Pietersen returned to the opening role he occupied at last year’s World Cup.
Having made starts to share fifty partnerships with fellow opener Alastair Cook, he subsequently hit emphatic eighth and ninth one-day international tons.
Cook departed early today, but Pietersen led a recovery from 68 for four after 16 overs.
“It is new. I’ve been lucky in a couple of games,” he admitted, alluding to being dropped on 45 during Saturday’s knock and successfully reviewing an lbw decision on 80 today.
“I enjoyed this evening - the calmness of the chase. Also, losing early wickets and having to bat through the whole innings. I’m still not picking (Saeed) Ajmal after two months here but it’s good fun.”
Pietersen was at the crease for all 10 of Ajmal’s overs today, and 30 from the off-spinner’s fellow slow bowlers. Although he eventually fell to Ajmal’s doosra, the 31-year-old knew self-belief could see him through.
“You need experience, lots of it, in order to keep the situation very simple - and back your ability,” he said. “You need a lot of confidence in your ability.
“When they picked the team and I saw they were going to bowl 40 overs of spin, I was like ’Oh no!’ But the hard work I’ve been putting in with Mushy [spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed] has paid off. I’ve spent hours and hours with him. I came in early today, early the other day.
“I’m not the finished article, by any stretch of the imagination. But wow, today I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Pietersen knew from batting through England’s innings on Saturday, that doing so again today would likely see England to victory.
He almost stayed the course, but did enough with just two required from the last over following his dismissal.
“I like to really calm things down and just watch the ball, and play it,” he added.
“I thought that the total they had, if I batted for 50 overs and took the game deep and batted with a bit of experience, we could come close.
“I just wanted to take the game deep, and I wanted to target bowlers as well. I think that was the key to the success.”