ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Canada v England, World Cup 2011, warm-up match
Pietersen excited by new opener's role
February 16, 2011
Kevin Pietersen is confident he will thrive in his new role as England's World Cup opener, after testing himself at the top of the order during the side's laboured 16-run victory over Canada in a warm-up match at Fatullah on Wednesday.
Pietersen has never previously opened the batting at full international level, although he did make a century for England A against India A at Bangalore in February 2004, on one of the six previous occasions he has opened in limited-overs cricket. On the slow, low wickets of the subcontinent, he believes that the chance to build an innings right from the word go will suit England's purposes as the tournament progresses.
"It's really exciting - a nice positive move going into the World Cup," Pietersen told reporters in Fatullah. "We spoke about it going into the end of the Australia tour. 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."
Pietersen has spent most of his ODI career to date at No. 4, and in Australia last month it was Matt Prior who was pushed up the order to partner Andrew Strauss. However, Prior showed an improved range of strokes against the spinners as he top-scored with 78 from No. 6 during the Canada match, meaning that England's campaign will now be spearheaded by a batsman who may have been off the boil in recent months, but remains one of their most feared combatants.
He insisted, however, that he would not be earmarked as a pinch-hitter, the role that Sanath Jayasuriya took to new heights during the last World Cup in the subcontinent in 1996. "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."
"It's something you think about - it could be nice, especially in the sub-continent," he added. "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."
While England's overall performance left much to be desired as they were run alarmingly close by the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, thanks to a spanking 93 from Rizwan Cheema, Pietersen believed that the return of several injured players, most notably the bowlers Stuart Broad and Ajmal Shahzad, was the biggest positive to take from the day's work.
"It was nice to get a few boys back [from injury]," he said. "They were tough conditions today, but there was 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.
"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," he added. "So hats off to him - but we still won the game."
Cheema, meanwhile, was happy to have shown his abilities at the top level, but was disappointed that Canada were unable to close out the game. "It feels great when the ball is going out of the park," he said. "We just lost too many early wickets when we didn't get behind the ball. They bowled pretty well. If we'd not lost so many early, it would be a different story."
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