Monday, 15 March 2010

Welcome back KP

It was a series deemed not important enough for the captain to be present, but if England's two test matches with Bangladesh help Kevin Pietersen return to form they could prove to be vital.

As ever, much of the pre-match discussion was about KP. England's most aggressive and arguably most talented batsmen has endured a horrendous year with injury and a dramatic loss of form leading to some critics questioning his place in the side. The pressure was certainly on.

The statistics tell the story. His last four scores in the Tests in South Africa were 0, 6, 7 and 12. After five centuries in 2008 KP has managed just one since - though he could point to an injury plagued Ashes summer last year as a factor- and managed an ODI highest score of just 48 in the same period.

Like any batsmen who is out of form the little things began to affect him. In this case it was an apparent inability to play left-arm spin. Cricket is a battle fought as much in the head as with the body and when a player has doubts about their ability, this will prey on their mind and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. For Pietersen this culminated in a rather embarrassing dismissal by part-time left-arm bowler Mohammed Ashraful in a warm-up game.

But the cricketing fortunes can swing from one way to the other in an instant. With the return Ashes series just eight months away a quick phone call to IPL team-mate Rahul Dravid for advice and plenty of sweat and guts seems to have done the trick.

Pietersen played an almost faultless innings in the opening test match, with his trademark aggressive strokes wrenching the game from away the embattled hosts - England are now 33/1 on to win the Test in the cricket betting. Alastair Cook may have grabbed the headlines with an excellent century but KP's return to form will be welcomed by everyone in the England camp.

Although they will not say it openly, the tour down under at the end of the year is what everyone is working towards and this visit to Bangladesh is part of the preparation.

Make no mistake if England are to retain the urn in Australia they will need a fully fit and firing Kevin Pietersen. The online betting shows just what a tough task the tour will be. If he does play a significant role in the Ashes then that day in Chittagong could be seen as one of the crucial turning points in his, and England's, fortunes.

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