KP punishes Pakistan to fire England

MATCH-WINNER Kevin Pietersen is setting his sights on a World Twenty20 semi-final spot after batting England to an impressive six-wicket victory over defending champions Pakistan in their opening Super Eights match.

Pietersen made a welcome return to form with a magnificent unbeaten 73 off just 52 balls as England chased down Pakistan’s 147-9 in Barbados.

Now, the Hampshire man believes Paul Collingwood’s side have the batting power to blitz his native South Africa in their penultimate Super Eights match tomorrow – and take one step closer to claiming a first-ever global one-day tournament victory.

“I’ve played in the team for five or six years now, and to have a batting line-up like we’ve got at the moment is incredible,” Pietersen said.

“Every single bloke from one down to nine or 10 can hit sixes. That’s brilliant, a great improvement and great for English cricket.”

Spinner Michael Yardy (2-19), Stuart Broad (2-25) and Ryan Sidebottom (2-28) all made valuable contributions with the ball, while Pietersen capped a fine all-round performance with a stunning catch in the deep to dismiss Umar Akmal.

“It wasn’t an easy wicket, but I think our boys bowled really well,” Pietersen added. “For the team to go out there and perform on a day like today when it was crucial was great.”

Rookie opening pair Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter gave England an encouraging start in their run pursuit with an opening stand of 44, although Saeed Ajmal helped their cause with three dropped catches.

Both men made 25, bringing Pietersen and captain Collingwood to the crease and the pair put on 60 for the third wicket before the latter holed out tamely to captain Shahid Afridi for 16.

Batting hero in the opening two innings’, Eoin Morgan (7) also fell to Ajmal late on, leaving Pietersen to finish the job with three balls to spare – although falling just short of his Twenty20 best of 79, scored against Zimbabwe in 2007.

Australia v India
(Barbados, 2.30pm start)

Sri Lanka v West Indies
(Barbados, 5.30pm start)