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Kevin Pietersen will hit top gear for England


Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen is confident his surprise move up to open the batting will prove a success for England in the World Cup.

Pietersen, previously a fixture at number four, instead took on the new ball in yesterday's narrow warm-up victory over Canada.

After making 24 on a painfully slow wicket, he could claim only an acceptable initial experience — as could England, bailed out by the batting of Matt Prior (78) and the bowling of a fit-again Stuart Broad (five for 37) in the first fixture of their sub-continental campaign.

Prior, a previous incumbent at the top of the order but shunted down to number six, and Jonathan Trott (57) helped salvage a competitive 243 all out.

When Broad and Ajmal Shahzad — also returning from injury — reduced Canada to 28 for five, it seemed the contest was going rapidly with the script of a wide-margin England victory.

But that was reckoning without the big hitting of Rizwan Cheema (93), who put Canada in position to pull off an unlikely win until Broad returned to see off him and finally Khurram Chohan.

Pietersen could therefore reflect on a hard-earned victory, and his own novel experience. “It's really exciting — a nice positive move going into the World Cup,” he said of his chance at the top of the order.

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Pietersen has had only fitful opportunities as an opener at any level, but England have confirmed he will stay there in this tournament.

“We spoke about it going into the end of the Australia tour,” he added. “We feel at the top of the innings is a really nice time to bat. I'm excited by it; the team are excited by it — and I'm looking forward to it.

“I'll look to play my normal game. It's not a pinch-hitting role. It was put to me, and I was very excited — and the team are right behind the decision. I'm fine.”

Pietersen did not need much persuasion to agree to the promotion.

“It's something you think about — could be nice, especially in the sub-continent,” he continued.

“Then once it was talked about seriously I went away and had a couple of days to think about.

“I thought it was exciting — and I have a nice little feeling about it.”

He already has a century in his short CV as an opener, against India A — and added: “I have fond memories of that, and I hope to replicate it at some stage.”

As for England's overall performance, he said: “It was nice to get a few boys back (from injury). They were tough conditions today, but some really good stuff from our lads — Broad coming back, Shahzad coming back and Matt Prior playing beautifully in the middle of the innings, and Jonathan Trott playing really nicely. “Broadie and Shaz bowled with the new ball exceptionally well.

“At the end of the day one bloke from Canada played beautifully, hit the ball out of the middle of the bat and played a wonderful innings — and that can happen on any particular day. So hats off to him — but we still won the game.”

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