Pietersen to open in Pakistan ODIs
Kevin Pietersen will open the batting for England in the one-day internationals versus Pakistan, team director Andy Flower has revealed.
The 31-year-old right-hander will likely partner captain Alastair Cook at the top of the order during the four ODIs in the United Arab Emirates from Monday.
Pietersen, today named in a 16-man squad for the ODIs and the party for the subsequent three Twenty20 internationals, opened in the four World Cup games he played in last year before being ruled out of the tournament by a hernia injury.
“He is going to be opening the batting for us in this series, and that should be really exciting to watch,” said Flower.
“We started with him in that position in the World Cup, and unfortunately he got injured and had to go home early. But he showed glimpses of what he could do.”
Flower believes Pietersen could prove to be a match-winner at the top of the order.
“He’s a very, very fine cricketer - a very dangerous cricketer - and someone we’d like to give the option of facing as many balls as possible in the limited-overs game,” he added. “If he stays in long enough, he will win games for us in that position.
“It hasn’t worked out well for him at number four recently, but I’m really excited to see him embrace the challenge of opening.”
Pietersen is one of several batsmen who struggled to find form in the Test series.
Flower admits he was surprised by their struggle, but is confident his group can get back on track in the one-day arena.
“It was quite strange and surprising to find so many of our batsmen low on confidence during this tour,” he said. “But we can do something about that and are working hard to do so.
“You don't always succeed, and when that is the case it can create some doubts.
“But the best players come through those moments of doubt and come out stronger.
“Of course, there is a cut-off line where it would be stupid to continue along the same path if it's not being successful. In the main, I don't think we're there with this group of players.
“This is not a closed shop, everyone's aware of that, but this group of batsmen have done an outstanding job for England and have very good international records over the past few years.”
One man who was part of the Test series, but has not been included in the one-day squad is Ian Bell.
Flower, though, insists the batsman's omission does not signal the end of his career in the shorter formats.
“Ian Bell is a very fine player who has had a hard time in this Test series and hasn't had that many chances recently in one-day cricket for us,” Flower added.
“I spoke to him yesterday about the one-day situation and he was very mature in his acceptance of it. What I did say to him was that this doesn't mean that his one-day career is necessarily over.
“He's not too old to fight his way back into the side and he's a very fine international cricketer.
“It depends how this group of players plays, whether any gaps open up in the future. If he can fight his way back in, good on him.”