Superstar batsman Kevin Pietersen became the latest victim of the injury-cursed World Cup on Monday, dealing a blow to England’s hopes as well as to the lustre of the sport’s showpiece tournament.
Pietersen will head home to undergo a hernia operation that he had been hoping to postpone until after the competition.
But after looking troubled during Sunday’s six-run win over his native South Africa in Chennai on Sunday, where he made just two off three balls, the 30-year-old will go under the knife immediately.
Pietersen is the 14th player to be replaced at the World Cup as the gruelling international schedule takes its toll on the game’s top stars.
He first complained of the problem after the 6-1 one day international defeat to Australia on the eve of the World Cup which immediately followed the Ashes triumph.
Pietersen, who in common with the majority of his English colleagues has been on the road virtually non-stop for over four months, played in all of England’s opening group games at the World Cup.
He made 39 against the Netherlands, 31 in the game against India, 59 during the embarrassing loss to Ireland before finishing with two in the narrow victory over South Africa.
England, who will ask for Eoin Morgan as a replacement, will now be under scrutiny as far as the recovery of their prized asset is concerned.
Pietersen is due to earn around $650 000 playing for the Deccan Chargers in the Indian Premier League which starts after the World Cup.
However, England would like their star batsman to be well-rested ahead of a busy home season of international cricket, featuring series against Sri Lanka and India.
The first Test against Sri Lanka starts in Cardiff on May 26.
England are second in Group B after Sunday’s win, just behind India who ended Ireland’s hopes of another upset with an efficient five-wicket victory in Bangalore.
Yuvraj Singh starred with bat and ball, making an unbeaten 50 to follow his five wickets.
“I’m just happy about how I am hitting the ball. My responsibility is to bat till the end whether we are batting first or chasing a target,” said Yuvraj.
“I missed quite a bit of cricket over a year and a half due to injuries and now to come back and play my part in victories is very satisfying.”
Defeat to England sent South Africa, still searching for a first World Cup title, spinning from top spot to fourth place in the table after they failed to chase down a 172 target in Chennai.
They were cruising at 63 without loss before a collapse once again raised questions over their brittle temperament.
“That’s not predictable at all, is it?” said skipper Graeme Smith sarcastically, when questioned about South Africa’s composure.
“Pressure? We’ve handled ourselves in some tough situations over the last few years, I don’t think pressure is our weakness.”
Monday’s action at the World Cup is distinctly low-key with Group A whipping boys Kenya and Canada playing for pride at New Delhi. — Sapa-AFP
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