Modest Pietersen deflects praise
Kevin Pietersen’s man-of-the-match innings was lauded as “champion” and “exceptional” in the England and Pakistan camps - yet his own response was coy.
Pietersen’s captain, Paul Collingwood, and Pakistan coach Waqar Younis both spoke in glowing terms about the unbeaten 73 which ensured England began their ICC World Twenty20 Super Eight campaign with a six-wicket win over the champions in Barbados.
He hit eight fours and two sixes from 52 balls as England passed Pakistan’s under-par 147 for nine with three balls to spare.
But Pietersen himself was hardly about to get carried away. Invited to reflect on his telling contribution, he chose instead to deflect the credit to his team-mates.
“Anything can happen in Twenty20. I could get out first ball [against South Africa] on Saturday,” he said. “It was nice, a nice wicket to bat on, and the boys bowled well.
“Then we chased down a real gettable total, which was great.”
Pietersen had to have medical attention on the pitch, after suddenly starting to limp on his left leg early in his innings.
But he explained: “No concern - I just hit my bat on my ankle. It’s bleeding a little bit, but no problem.”
There is no panic either yet about his likely dash home at some point over the next 10 days to be present at the birth of his baby in London.
That life-changing event will not clutter his mind when he is playing, he insists.
“If it’s after the tournament that the baby comes, it’s after the tournament,” said the batsman. “If it’s during the tournament, I’ll still be giving it my best shot whenever I play for England - no matter where or in what situation.”
Pietersen is enthused by England’s collective batting power.
“I’ve played in the team for five or six years now, and to have a batting line-up like we’ve got at the moment is incredible,” he said.
“Every single bloke from one down to nine or 10 can hit sixes. That’s brilliant, a great improvement and great for English cricket.
“This is what I love doing; this is why I’m playing this tournament - because I want to play for England and win games for England. I’ll play for England as long as I can.”
England are delighted to have him too, Collingwood adding: “It was a great knock by KP.
“We all know what KP can do, and when he’s in that kind of form he’s very dangerous. It was an exceptional innings. It needed someone to get past 50 today just to see the team home.”
There was no such reason for satisfaction for Waqar, whose team made a poor fist of batting first on a surface of decent pace - and then dropped five catches too.
But he said: “You must give Kevin Pietersen credit for the way he played - he batted like a champion and took the game away from us.
“It can be very frustrating, the way we dropped the catches and the way we fielded. But we’re not out of the tournament, so we don’t really have to worry about that.
“I thought 147 was a decent total, maybe 15 runs short - but with our bowling attack, I thought we could have managed it.”