A BATTING WITH BIMAL SPECIAL: Time for Kevin Pietersen to prove his worth

The smile may be back on Pietersen’s face for now but will it still be there at the end of the India series?

The Kevin Pietersen saga caught everyone’s attention when he was initially accused of sending derogatory text messages about former Test captain Andrew Strauss to South African players during England’s Test series against the Proteas this summer.

However, after a month of dominating the headlines, Pietersen pretty much became public enemy number one and everyone, including respected cricket pundits, thought that this would be the end of his international career.

But, after personally apologising to Strauss, the public and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Pietersen was awarded a four-month central contract and was instructed to go through a reintegration process in order to find himself back in England colours.

Pietersen seems to have finally made peace with his England team-mates, who would have been shooting daggers into his back when news first emerged of his so-called ‘betrayal’, and the South African-born batsman is ready to bring his flamboyant batting style to the shores of India after being added to the team roster.

Having won only one Test match in India since 1985, England, led by opening batsman Alastair Cook, will be looking to find any weak spot in the Indian lineup that will give them a small glimpse of emerging victorious.

And, with that in mind, the England team will be relying heavily on Pietersen’s knowledge of the conditions they may face in India, given the experience he has playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

This is probably one of the most important reasons why England needed Pietersen in the lineup for this tour, as many of the other players would be heading into unfamiliar territory having never played in the country before.

We all know Pietersen is an accomplished batsman, having scored his 7000th Test run in the Test series against South Africa, however, in the second Test of that series, not only did he blitz his way to a brilliant knock of 149, he also picked up four wickets in the match.

Since Pietersen is an off-spinner, Cook could perhaps look to him to provide England with a couple overs of spin in hopes that he may get some movement and turn off the pitches, which is usually the case, given that the pitches in India are spin-friendly.

Batting wise, Pietersen does have a reputation of being a hit and miss sort of batsman, but on any given day he could just come out and middle every delivery, like he did in the second Test at Headingley against South Africa, where he effortlessly smashed the Proteas’ speed demon Dale Steyn back down the ground for massive sixes.

If this truly does happen against India, it will be time for the Indian bowlers to run and duck for cover.

However, having not played any cricket throughout the second half of the summer, many people are questioning whether Pietersen will be in good form or not since he recently spent the entire International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 working as a television pundit for ESPN Star Sports rather than looking to improve on his game in the nets.

There also still remains the question of there being any lingering feeling of animosity in the air of the England dressing room after what Pietersen did this summer, and if Pietersen was so easily ‘provoked’ into sending derogatory messages by the South African players, how is he expecting to deal with the Indians, who may use this tactic to get inside his head.

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