Wednesday 22 November 2017

Pietersen's fitness a timely boost for shaken England

David Clough

England are still confident they can claim a World Cup quarter-final place, but know there must be no more slip-ups -- starting against South Africa this morning.

Andrew Strauss admits moderate bowling so far has contributed to an awkward situation, after three Group B matches, which means England are likely to need two more victories to progress.

It will be far from easy to put the first one on the board against table-toppers South Africa at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

But they will at least go into the match with the reassurance that Kevin Pietersen should be fit for the remainder of the tournament, despite the hernia problem which will require surgery immediately afterwards and rule him out of the first installment of his six-figure Indian Premier League deal with the Deccan Chargers.

Pietersen must come to terms with that, and concentrate on trying to help England win their first World Cup.

"I'm obviously extremely disappointed to have picked up this hernia injury," said the 30-year-old, who has been pushed up to open the batting at this tournament. Pietersen is hoping he can play through any discomfort, to England's benefit.

"Representing England in a World Cup is something I've been looking forward to for the past four years, and I'm excited by the prospect of helping the team achieve something special here on the sub-continent against the best teams in the world."

Strauss, meanwhile, must concentrate on the here and now -- with only a glance of acknowledgement over his shoulder at the lessons learned from England's shock defeat against Ireland on Wednesday.

"If you bowl and field poorly you're likely to lose games," he said. "Generally there are going to be a lot of high-scoring games, so any slight edge you can get in the field may make a difference."

He believes nonetheless it is detrimental to dwell on what has passed, even if it is only just so. "The format of the World Cup means you have to put defeat to bed quickly and move on.

"We now have to focus on South Africa on this wicket, and that's the way it's got to be. I think it's the healthiest thing for a side anyway," he added.

Sunday Indo Sport

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