13 November, 2008

Pietersen backs his bowlers to deliver the goods against India

RAJKOT: Ryan Sidebottom's absence notwithstanding, England captain Kevin Pietersen believes his bowling attack is capable of delivering the goods
against the strong Indian batting line-up in the first of seven One-Day Internationals on Friday.

"This is the most stable attack, since Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff have come back into the team. Then, we have (Stuart) Broad, (James) Anderson and Samit Patel who have been bowling brilliantly," Pietersen said.

"I think our bowling has been the best in the last month or so and if we can bat well, it will be a good match," he said ahead of the first One-dayer at the Madhavrao Scindia ground.

He also justified the inclusion of Ravi Bopara in the playing XI ahead of Luke Wright.

"It's unfortunate for Luke because he's done nothing wrong to be honest but Ravi Bopara is better on these wickets," he said.

The gangling batsman also hoped that the return of seniors like Flintoff and Harmison would lend the side the necessary experience in the upcoming battles.

"Our senior players Freddie and Steve have come back and they are very experienced campaigners with 10 years of international cricket behind them. (Paul) Collingwood too has been around for a while and there a few youngsters who are being talked about in terms of delegating responsibilities.

"The team is raring to go and that's been our recipe for success. Like we have been against South Africa, the guys have been fantastic here, they've taken on this really well so it's nice for me as a captain," he said.

The South Africa-born batsman, who took over captaincy during the last English summer against his country of birth, feels that India play a tough brand of cricket with a lot of passion and pride.

"I just think that India plays cricket tough. We, Australia and South Africa also play it tough. I just think the nations are playing with pride and passion, which is fantastic," he said.

According to Pietersen, it would be a challenge for his team members to rise to the occasion in tough conditions in front of a cricket-crazy nation.

"It's lovely to play in India. If you saw the crowd at our hotel last night, it was absolutely remarkable - they poured in from 10 in the morning. It just gives the guys a buzz. They love India where cricket is a religion and the game is played passionately. And that's why we are here, to test ourselves in testing conditions. We love being here," he said.
Pietersen, meanwhile, did not read too much into the loss against a second-string Mumbai team before coming here in their second warm-up game.

"The guys have worked harder, having lacked competitive cricket. Hopefully we have learnt our lessons in the last couple of weeks so that we can come out and fire on all cylinders tomorrow," he said.

Echoing his Indian counterpart's views that it's not a contest between the rival captains but between two teams, Pietersen hailed Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a great player and a very good skipper.

"I don't think it is between individuals, though individual performances can definitely sway games. Dhoni is a great player who has led India very, very well since (Anil) Kumble. He's got charisma and style, he's a good guy," he said.

He also felt there were similarities between his own game and that of the Indian skipper.

"I think there are similarities between me and Dhoni. I've played a bit against Dhoni. I think he's a special player and a cool character.

"I think both him and me are free spirits in terms of walking on the pitch and expressing ourselves but I haven't spent enough time with him to figure out more similarities," said the England skipper.

Pietersen said the wicket looked good and hoped his team could rise to the occasion.

"This wicket looks great and from past scores it looks a good wicket to bat on. Hope we'll dish out entertaining cricket," he said.

Talking the new Power Play rules, Pietersen felt it was aimed at making ODIs a bit more interesting.

"I think the world of cricket is changing. Test (cricket) is the top brand and then I see Twenty20 has obviously taken on the big stage. I think if you draw 50-over cricket in a Twenty20 format, there's some new formats will have to be drawn up. I think it's just a test to get 50-overs cricket close to Twenty20, just to make it a little more interesting.

"As a captain it would be very, very interesting to see when they take their batting Power Play but by the looks of it it's going to be late - the Pakistan vs West Indies (at Abu Dhabi yesterday) match it was taken very late. We just need to hit our areas and maybe bowl in the right places at the right time," he explained.

Pietersen brushed aside queries over a ball landing into their practice nets today and said, "I don't think too much needs to be read into it. At the end of the day, both players were practicing their shots," he concluded.read more

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