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Flower has faith in Pietersen

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Kevin Pietersen

Andy Flower thinks Kevin Pietersen is close to rediscovering his form that made him one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket

England coach Andy Flower is backing Kevin Pietersen to score heavily this summer despite his failure in the opening npower Test.

Pietersen made just three in England's only innings against Sri Lanka at Cardiff, while Alastair Cook and Ian Bell hit centuries and Jonathan Trott a double hundred on a largely benign surface.

Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann shared eight second-innings wickets as England claimed an astonishing victory by bowling Sri Lanka out for just 82 on the final evening.

While Flower could therefore reflect with satisfaction on odds and circumstances defied, he also found himself once again speaking out in support of Pietersen.

“It is obvious he has had his issues,” he said of England's number four, who made a man-of-the-match double hundred only six Test innings ago in Adelaide.

“I will be perfectly honest with you, I am very excited by what I see from KP at the moment. I think he’s on the verge of being a very heavy scorer again.

“I love the way he’s training and I know when he transfers that to the middle he’s going to be a very heavy scorer. I envisage him having a great summer for England.”

Rangana Herath became the latest left-arm spinner to send Pietersen packing early.

Flower added: “He’s had his obvious battles playing left-arm spin but he is aware of them and is working hard at them. When he was out in Bangladesh he scored a very, very fine Test century [he scored 99] against at least two left-arm spinners.

“He worked hard in the nets there on his method against left-arm spin and he played them very comfortably. Since then he has had a few ups and downs, but I don’t envisage this problem continuing.”

Flower is hoping Pietersen cashes in sooner rather than later, even with India, the world's top-ranked side, arriving later in the summer.

He said: “He is very close to scoring heavily against all types of bowling. There is no time for keeping runs back. Lord’s will do nicely.”

James Anderson

James Anderson has been ruled out of the second npower Test at Lord's with a side strain, but Flower is confident the pace bowler will make a swift recovery. "I envisage him being back for the Rose Bowl,” he said

As for England’s victory, in which Sri Lanka were bowled out in under 25 overs in their second innings, Flower insists his team - famed in the past as much for their determination in staving off defeats as closing out victories - never gave up hope that they could beat the weather, and the opposition.

He said: “We hadn’t actually, which is why we declared when we did. We thought there was just a three or four per cent chance of us winning if we took a few early wickets with the new ball.

“But it was definitely the way to go, rather than let the game peter out to a boring draw. Usually when we are talking in those terms it is when we have our backs to the wall.

“Here we were slightly ahead and only had a very slim chance of getting in a position for a victory. But our guys still believed they could, and then they were good enough to deliver.”

England, who have named uncapped swing bowler Jade Dernbach in a 12-man squad minus the injured James Anderson, can wrap up the three-match npower series early with a second victory.

Flower is optimistic Anderson, who picked up a side strain against Sri Lanka, will be available for the third Test at the Rose Bowl, starting on June 16.

“I think he might be fit for the Rose Bowl,” said Flower. “It was a grade one tear at worst - but being an intercostal muscle and in an area where he has had stiffness before, the cautious option was to take him out of the attack. I do envisage him being back for that Test.”

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