Pietersen wants England to pull off 'amazing' comeback
Kevin Pietersen is targeting an "amazing" one-day series comeback over the next ten days to give the tour of Australia a perfect finish. England handed themselves a lifeline with a 21-run victory at Adelaide, but still need to win the three remain matches, starting with the game in Brisbane on Sunday, to steal the trophy.
If they can pull it off, it would be a fightback similar to the one England achieved four years ago after appearing down and out during the CB Series before winning two matches to reach the final ahead of New Zealand, and then beating the hosts 2-0. Pietersen missed most of that tournament, having broken a rib in an early match, but has set his sights on a deciding encounter at Perth on February 6.
"It'll be amazing. We were 3-0 down and to be able to fight to the end and turn out in Perth on what could be a final would be incredible. It was nice to win in Adelaide, you always look for momentum but momentum hasn't meant a lot on this trip so far. It's a different ground with different conditions and whoever adjusts best will win tomorrow. We can't afford to lose."
Pietersen has had a mixed series with the bat, beginning with a dominant 78 at the MCG before falling first ball at Hobart. He then missed the Sydney match with a groin strain but returned for Adelaide, where he was caught at long-on for 12.
This series has been Pietersen's comeback into the one-day set-up after he was dropped against Pakistan in September, so he needed a productive series to reaffirm his credentials. England played seven batsmen in the previous match but that's unlikely to be a long-term solution heading into the World Cup, so no one can afford to lose their form at this juncture.
"You are going to get frustrated. I've been playing really nicely and have been on this whole trip so far," Pietersen said. "I was frustrated in Hobart then I'm not sure it was the wrong option the other night but it looked like the wrong option the way I going out, just trying to hit a boundary. But these things happen."
England have a quick turnaround between the end of this tour and the World Cup. The players will have three days at home before departing for the subcontinent to begin preparations, although Paul Collingwood and Graeme Swann have been given extra time off for paternity leave.
There are injury concerns over Swann and Tim Bresnan, who flew home from Australia with back and calf injuries respectively, although both remain confident of making the start of the tournament. Pietersen thinks that the enforced breaks can actually benefit England.
"The boys will be fresh, the boys will be firing," he said. "In a weird sort of way it's quite nice that a few guys have had a few games off and been rested and some guys are back in England because they'll come back fresh and rearing to go as soon as we jump on that plane."
Although Pietersen remains desperate to finish this tour on a successful he doesn't think these one-dayers will have a huge bearing on what happens when the World Cup starts. "I'm not sure how vital it will be because conditions will be totally different. I think the first week in the subcontinent when we start getting used to conditions and the make-up of our side, having a full strength team out, that will be really crucial."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo