ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pietersen stars in crushing win


Kevin Pietersen’s magnificent 110 led England to a convincing 114-run-win over New Zealand in the first ODI at Chester-le-Street. With a disciplined allround display in the field, they never let New Zealand have a sniff of reaching 308 - a target made all the more challenging for the visitors after the early wicket of Brendon McCullum for 36. If this wasn’t a complete one-day performance by England, it was something close to it. For New Zealand, it was sadly much of the same.

Led by Stuart Broad, England’s bowlers were tight, disciplined and indebted to Pietersen’s remarkable hundred from 112 balls. For too long Pietersen has been in hibernation; this was his first one-day hundred since the 2007 World Cup, and once he passed fifty, he appeared to regress back into that creative, dominant batsman who had all of England purring two years ago. England had lost Luke Wright for a stodgy 11, while Bell struggled to replicate his silky timing of two days ago, falling for 46. When Ravi Bopara departed, rather timidly handing Scott Styris a caught-and-bowled, England limped to 95 for 3 with the halfway point fast approaching.

That they reached the lofty heights of 307 was largely Pietersen’s doing, but Collingwood returned to form brilliantly with a run-a-ball 64, as the pair put on 136 for the fourth wicket. Pietersen initially struggled, pottering - as much he ever potters - to 30 but unfurled thrillingly, like a caterpillar escaping its chrysalis. Styris, who was later to be dumbfounded by Pietersen’s touch of genius, was clattered through the covers; Daniel Vettori, who mostly outbowled all his colleagues, was flat-driven over the top for six and after reaching a run-a-ball fifty, he took on Michael Mason with fours over midwicket. How desperately New Zealand miss Jacob Oram and the balance he offers the side.

For all Collingwood’s impressive personal recovery, bulldozing his way into form through sheer bloody mindedness, all eyes were firmly fixed on Pietersen who, by now, was shifting through the gears in style. Each of his trademark shots were ticked off: the blazing cover drive, fierce pull in front of square, but the reverse-switch six hasn’t been on view since he took on Muttiah Muralitharan in 2006. Here, he succeeded twice in four overs off an understandably perplexed Styris. Changing his grip and stance to that of a left-hander, Pietersen crashed him over cover (or midwicket, depending on your view) for one of the day’s longest sixes. Four overs later he bettered it with another, straighter and crisper blow which sailed into the stand at long-on. This wasn’t just audacious batting, but creative entertainment by a peerless showman. Surprising, then, that this was his first one-day hundred on home soil.

Collingwood was bowled by a frustrated Vettori, but England continued to pile on the pressure, with Owais Shah taking over the mantle of entertainer from Pietersen. In 25 balls, he carved, cracked and crashed 49. He went inside out to Mason over extra cover; Mills was hoisted over deep midwicket for another six, while Southee’s debut went from bad to worse when Shah cracked him straight back over his head. It was breathless hitting.

Whereas England were consistently good, New Zealand were quite the opposite - though they were given hope of reaching their target through McCullum. Ryan Sidebottom, recalled after being rested for Friday’s Twenty20 at Old Trafford, was fast but inaccurate, while James Anderson was back to his mercurial mediocre. McCullum capitalised, picking up Sidebottom for a huge six over midwicket, followed by a firm cut off Anderson two balls later.

With Anderson and Sidebottom leaking runs, it was to the youngster that Collingwood turned. Broad may look 14, but for someone still so inexperienced he showed remarkable control - helped, no doubt, by removing the biggest wicket of them all with his first ball. It wasn’t the greatest of deliveries, truth be told: a short long-hop outside off which McCullum wellied straight to cover.

James Marshall’s forgettable tour continued when he set off for a single to Collingwood in the gully, whose dead-eye throw knocked out the stumps to leave New Zealand stumbling on 61 for 2 after 14 overs. After McCullum, only Ross Taylor had the audacity to take on such a daunting total, and once he fell for 20 New Zealand had little hope. With the wickets came a resurgent England fielding display, Anderson excelling in the deep with two excellent saves, and only the most gnarly of nitpickers could fault them in the field.

Collingwood capped off a fine allround day with four wickets, drowning New Zealand’s resolve. There may be no dollars or gold pots to chase in this form of the game at the moment, but England’s eyes were firmly fixed on winning from the outset.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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