England v Pakistan, Group E, World T20, Barbados May 6, 2010

Pietersen praises England power-hitters

Kevin Pietersen could be leaving this tournament at any moment should his wife go into labour, and in the form he showed against Pakistan it will be a considerable hole to fill if he is absent.

His unbeaten 73 meant England eased home with three balls to spare against Pakistan to put them in a strong position to qualify for the semi-finals. Pietersen arrived a few days later than his team-mates for this event, after spending time at home following the IPL, and his only warm-up innings was a first-ball duck against South Africa.

However, he'd shown consistent form at the IPL and was in decent touch in Guyana before twice falling to poorly-placed pull shots. Pietersen used to be the one batsman England could rely on to clear the boundary, but now the line-up is packed with power following the inclusion of Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter at the top, plus Eoin Morgan at No. 5.

"I've played in the team for five or six years and to have a batting line-up like we have now is incredible," Pietersen said. "For every bloke from one down to nine or ten to be able to hit sixes is brilliant. When I started we had [Marcus] Trescothick but didn't have many six-hitters and now most of our guys can hit sixes so it's brilliant for English cricket."

Pietersen's first significant impact on the match had come in the field when he sprinted around the boundary at deep midwicket to hold a stunning catch to remove the dangerous Umar Akmal, who still had time to extend Pakistan's total. Pietersen hasn't always been the safest pair of hands in the field having started his Test career with a rash of dropped catches in the 2005 Ashes, but this take highlighted how mobile England now are in the field.

"Those are catches you go for and if you get them they look great," he said, "but with hands like I've got you aren't meant to catch them, that is for sure."

The contrast with Pakistan couldn't have been greater as they produced a horrific fielding display. Saeed Ajmal managed to drop three chances at mid-on and mid-off, Abdur Razzaq put down a caught-and-bowled opportunity against Pietersen and Fawad Alam palmed a tough catch over the boundary for six. However, coach Waqar Younis played down the significance of a poor match.

"The way we dropped the catches was very frustrating, but we aren't out of the tournament so don't have to worry about that," he said. "I thought 147 was a decent total, maybe 15 runs short, but with our bowling attack I thought we could manage it. However, you have to give credit to Kevin Pietersen. He batted like a champion and took the game away from us."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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