'He deserves to be in top spot' March 27, 2007

Pietersen's No. 1 ranking will boost us - Mahmood

Cricinfo staff

Sajid Mahmood is glad he only has to bowl to Kevin Pietersen in the nets, not in matches © Getty Images

Sajid Mahmood believes Kevin Pietersen's new ranking as the world's No. 1 ODI batsman will lift England during the Super Eights. Pietersen became the third England player, after Marcus Trescothick and Allan Lamb, to hold the top spot when he deposed Michael Hussey following the World Cup group matches.

"It's a big lift knowing we have the No. 1 batsman in the world in our side, and hopefully the other guys can feed off that," Mahmood told AFP. "He's a fantastic player and I think he deserves to be in the top spot. The way he's performed has been brilliant and his average speaks for itself."

Pietersen averages 56.76 from his 45 ODIs and his good form continued in England's opening games at St Lucia, when he made 60 against New Zealand and 56 not out against Kenya. Mahmood said Pietersen was a remarkable batsman and could destroy any attack.

"It's difficult bowling at him in the nets because he has these really strange shots which he pulls out of nowhere, and you think to yourself 'how has he hit that, I've never been hit like that before'," he said. "But I'm fortunate I don't play against him in a match situation - he's a lot more relaxed in the nets than he is during a game so I'm happy to bowl at him then, rather than in the middle."

Mahmood, who played only in the Kenya match, when he took 1 for 39, said he hoped to have a bigger role as the tournament progressed. "I would have liked to get a couple more wickets, but I haven't really played for a month or so now, so to get into a rhythm and bowl a few overs and feel the atmosphere is a good thing," he said.

"I've been working really hard in the nets, so pretty much everything was there already, the only thing that wasn't was the match pressure I had to face. It was good to get out there before the Super Eights to get used to the conditions though, and hopefully I can get a few more games in that part of the competition and do well."