Pietersen pleases Flintoff

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen opens his shoulders as he leads England home © Getty Images

Andrew Flintoff toasted match-winner Kevin Pietersen after sealing his first win as England one-day captain.

Hampshire batsman Pietersen struck an unbeaten 90 under the Sardar Patel Stadium floodlights to down ICC Champions Trophy holders West Indies by three wickets.

The 26-year-old, who was feeling unwell going into the final Group A contest, arrived at the crease after Flintoff and Paul Collingwood fell in the same Chris Gayle over.

Regular wickets went down at the other end and West Indies appeared favourites when the seventh fell in the 45th over.

But Pietersen blasted his side to their 273-run target in an unbeaten stand of 44, from just 23 deliveries, with Sajid Mahmood.

"We wanted someone to take responsibility and win a game for us and Kevin did that with class," said Flintoff, in his seventh ODI in charge.

"He was fantastic. He went in at a bit of a wobble but he steadied the ship, paced the innings fantastically well and played the way we know he can play.

"If he carries on like that the team is going to be stronger."

Equally as positive ahead of next month's Ashes was Flintoff getting through five overs with the ball - his first bowl in international cricket since June.

"I was not at full tilt, probably 80-85%, but I was pleased with it," said Flintoff, who entered the tournament solely as a batsman following ankle surgery.

Andrew Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff suffered no ill effects to his bowling return

"I was confident I would be fine - it has been okay for the whole trip - but in some ways there is a little bit of relief now I've bowled in a game going into what we are over the next few weeks."

Having lost comprehensively to hosts India and world champions Australia, England finally performed in a dead rubber which West Indies were nevertheless keen to win.

They appeared on course to do so when centurions Gayle and Dwayne Bravo were together in a 174-run stand for the second wicket.

"It's fair to say in the first two games we had not performed as we can," said Flintoff. "This game was an important game in the development of our team.

"We were playing for pride and that is bigger than any cup or worth more than any cheque.

"We played with pride: there was a quiet confidence, we believed we would get that target and we got it well in the end."

West Indies captain Brian Lara now leads his side into a semi-final against South Africa in Jaipur.

"It was not just Pietersen. I thought a number of them batted really well," he said. "They are heading home for a few days and maybe they played a bit more freely than in the first few games.

"But if we were going to have a hiccup this was the time to have it."

England fast bowler Steve Harmison was left out after two off-colour displays on the sub-continent and Jon Lewis, his replacement, offered control with the new ball lacking in the past couple of matches.

"It is always a tough decision to leave players out," Flintoff reflected.

"Jon Lewis has been bowling fantastically well in the nets, we felt he deserved a chance and he was outstanding.

"It is never easy bowling in the power plays so to bowl 10 straight through and go at three-and-a-half-an-over is full credit to Jon."

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