India v England, 2nd ODI, Indore November 17, 2008

Pietersen defends selection continuity

Cricinfo staff


Kevin Pietersen: struggling to keep England in the series © Getty Images
 
Kevin Pietersen backed England's team selection in spite of another heavy defeat in the second ODI against India at Indore, and preferred to concentrate on the fact that their 54-run defeat was a marked improvement on the 158-run drubbing they endured in the series opener at Rajkot on Friday.

Despite attracting some criticism for a lop-sided line-up, which includes Ravi Bopara as a non-bowling option at No. 8, and the part-time spin of Samit Patel at No. 7, Pietersen was adamant that continuity was the secret to success.

"I didn't want to change the side, I wanted to give the guys the confidence to know that they could turn things around," he said. "You could say conditions favoured them and if we'd bowled second then it might have been different, but the team we went in with, we thought could win this fixture and be more competitive, and we were today."

England enjoyed a flying start to the match when Stuart Broad reduced India to 29 for 3, and they were still in the reckoning while Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were taking 59 runs from the final five-over Powerplay. But once again, the difference between the sides was Yuvraj Singh, who followed up his second century of the series with figures for 4 for 28.

"We've made marked improvements from the first game, when we were totally outplayed and were out of it from 30 overs onwards," said Pietersen. "We certainly got a good start here today, but we probably weren't aggressive and didn't carry that through and we probably thought it would just happen for us, which is a mistake of ours."

When asked what England could do to stop India's matchwinner, Pietersen joked: "I'm going to take Yuvraj out at the hotel tonight and make sure he doesn't come to Kanpur. The bowlers tried their hearts out and the batters definitely gave us a good run but we needed someone to get a big score like Yuvraj did."

While England ponder the problems posed by Yuvraj, they will not have been heartened by the comments of his team-mate, Yusuf Pathan, whose 50 from 29 balls helped hoist India to a formidable total of 292 for 9. "We find it difficult bowling to [Yuvi] in the nets so we're just the same as England," he said. "But we're not going to give them any tips on it."