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Skipper Pietersen guides England home at Headingley

Published: Saturday, August 23, 2008, 3:30 [IST]
 
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Leeds: Kevin Pietersen's golden start to the England captaincy continued as he hit 90 not out to set up a 20-run win in the first one-day international against South Africa at Headingley here on Friday.

Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, who made 78 from 70 balls, hauled England up from 113/3 after 30 overs to 275/4 from 50 with a stand of 158 for the fourth wicket - a record for 50-over internationals on this ground.

And Pietersen's Midas touch returned in the South African innings when four bowling changes - Steve Harmison (twice), Samit Patel and the captain himself -- produced wickets in their first over as the tourists were all out for 255.

Pietersen ended with figures of 2/22 with his off-spin and Harmison 2/43.

Scorecard

In contrast to England, South Africa set off at pace in pursuit of their target with Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith taking the score to 50 before Pietersen called up Harmison for his first one-day international bowl for nearly two years.

Four balls later, the Durham quick had Smith caught behind and Gibbs was then bowled by Patel to leave South Africa 93/2 in the 15th over.

Pietersen immediately took Patel off, called a Power Play and brought back Harmison but he and Flintoff - who slowed down the scoring rate - could not break through.

Pietersen brought himself on and immediately had AB de Villiers caught at midwicket for 24 then was involved in the run out of dangerman Kallis for 52 after a quick throw from Ian Bell.

Mark Boucher was next to fall under Pietersen's spell getting stumped by Matt Prior and after a stand of 34 for the sixth wicket, with Johan Botha Harmison returned to dismiss J-P Duminy and signal the end of South Africa's hopes.

But it was with the bat that Pietersen made his most telling contribution. After playing themselves in carefully, Flintoff and Pietersen unleashed a torrent of boundaries to demolarise the South Africans.

Flintoff hit his highest score in one-day internationals since 2005 and he hit nine fours before being bowled backing away by Sale Steyn in the final over.

Pietersen escaped two big leg before appeals and a close run out when his bat appeared to bounce over the crease when he was on 23 and took 52 balls to hit his first four.

But once he had found his range, Pietersen and Flintoff took the score from 150 to 200 in just 38 balls before accelerating once more towards the end of the innings.

On a sluggish pitch Pietersen's openers Prior and Bell got the score up to 27/0 off the first five overs England got bogged down afterwards and at one stage went 169 balls and only hit the fence twice.

But the fireworks from Pietersen, who won his first Test as captain at the Oval, and Flintoff ensured that England had enough runs to bowl at.

Kallis, who was spared the onslaught, was the pick of the South African bowlers with 2/25 from five overs.

AFP

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