Kevin Pietersen laid the platform for a commanding 39-run victory over his native South Africa as England took a giant stride towards the World Twenty20 semifinals here on Saturday.
Pietersen’s high-class 53 was at the heart of England’s 168 for seven against the land of his birth at the Kensington Oval.
The star batsman, named man-of-the-match for the second time in as many fixtures after his unbeaten 73 in a six-wicket Super Eights win over defending champions Pakistan on Thursday, then revealed he
was leaving the Caribbean to be with wife Jessica, who is expecting the couple’s first child.
However, Pietersen said he hoped to return from London to the West Indies should England qualify for the semifinals.
“I’m flying back to London in the next 24 hours and hoping everything goes well and according to plan, there’s no complications,” Pietersen told Sky Sports.
“If we get through to the semifinals, I’ll come in the day before the semifinals,” the former Test captain added.
Pietersen, whose innings helped put England in sight of a last four spot, has struggled with both form and fitness at international level for over a year, with a right Achilles injury ruling him out of the majority of the 2009 Ashes series win over Australia.
“I’ve had a really rough last 12-14 months so it’s nice to be back again,” Pietersen said.
England Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood was delighted by a dominant display that delighted the massed ranks of England fans in the crowd.
“There are a lot of England fans in here and I wanted us to put on a good performance and we’ve done that,” he said.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith said his side had been well beaten.
“Credit to England, they were far better than us today, especially in the first 10 overs.
“In general it was a very disappointing day for us and we have to make sure we bounce back.”
South Africa suffered a dramatic top-order collapse against England spinners Graeme Swann (three wickets for 24 runs) and Michael Yardy (two for 26).
The Proteas lost four wickets for 19 runs as 34 for one was transformed into 53 for five.
Left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom (three for 23) ended the match with an over to spare by bowling Morne Morkel as South Africa were dismissed for 129.
Victory left England with two wins from two second round matches.
However, it is possible for three of the four sides in a pool that also features New Zealand to end the second round, which concludes for Group E teams in St Lucia on Monday, with two wins each.
If that is the case, net run-rate will decide which two teams go through to the last four.
But if Pakistan beat South Africa, England will be in the semifinals before their match against New Zealand.
South Africa’s slump against spin started when Herschelle Gibbs, on eight, top-edged a sweep off left-armer Yardy’s first ball and was brilliantly caught by a diving Sidebottom, running back at short fine leg.
Smith then holed out when his slog-sweep off Swann was caught in the deep by Michael Lumb.
Albie Morkel, who’d hammered 40 off just 18 balls in South Africa’s 13-run win over New Zealand here on Thursday, was out for a duck after a Yardy delivery turned past the outside edge and clipped the top of off-stump.
AB de Villiers did not last long either before skying Swann to England captain Paul Collingwood at midwicket.
Earlier, Pietersen shared a stand of 94 in just under 12 overs with fellow South Africa born batsman Craig Kieswetter, who made 41.
The pair relished the pace of fast bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, whose combined eight overs cost a hugely expensive 90 runs.
Pietersen struck a huge six over long-on off Steyn and then casually advanced down the pitch to drive him for four.
But former South Africa Under-19 international Kieswetter had made just seven when he guided Morne Morkel straight to third man only for the Proteas’ joy to be cut short because the delivery was a no-ball. – AFP