Kevin Pietersen will be coming into this match on the back of consecutive centuries and all eyes wil be on him as we move onto the T20I action. It’s a match that England are justified favourites to win, explains Betfair ambassador Michael Vaughan.
Kevin Pietersen is on a roll. Having gone 38 ODI innings without a century, spread over three years, he scored his second in two matches. And if his ton on Sunday felt a bit like a pressure-free exhibition of batting given the nature of the run-chase, the second ton was a proper matchwinning innings with England really up against it for the majority of the chase. It was almost a case of ‘KP versus Pakistan’ and maybe that’s when he’s at his best. I’m sure he’d tell you that was one of the most satisfying knocks he’s ever played in ODI cricket.
Maybe the penny has dropped with Kevin Pietersen and he’s worked out how to score an ODI ton as an opener. I never managed to do that. I either opened or batted at three and got to 50 often enough but, after that, I wasn’t really sure how to get to 100. Accumulate runs steadily or put my foot on the gas and score quicker? I never had that problem in Tests. If I got to 50 I really fancied my chances of completing my century. But don’t take my word for it, check the stats. 18 tons in Tests and none in ODIs from an almost identical number of games tells its own story!
Two things are for sure. Firstly I think that for the remainder of his career we’ll see KP open the batting in ODIs and secondly he’s the obvious choice to top-score for England in the first T20I. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot and as an opener in sublime form against the same attack he’s been destroying over the past few days, he’s the smart option at around 4.0 (3-1).
For what it’s worth my England XI for this match would be: Pietersen, Kieswetter, Bopara, Morgan, Patel, Bairstow, Buttler, Swann, Broad, Dernbach, Finn. A good blend of youth and experience and plenty of variety in the bowling as well as a lot of sharp fielders.
It would be just like Pakistan to come out and play brilliantly in this first T20I but we have to look at things logically. England are the better fielding side and whereas KP, Bopara and even Morgan have all been impressive with the bat, I can’t really think of one Pakistan batter who has caught in the eye throughout the series. As for the bowling, maybe England have finally, finally learnt how to play Pakistan’s army of spinners.
Again, it would be just like Shahid Afridi to come along and hit a matchwinning knock of 70 off about 40 balls when we least expect him to. If he does and Pakistan win, good luck to them. But I think England will win this game and they’re actually a slightly bigger price than what I would have expected so at 1.85 (5/6) they’re a confident selection.
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