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Pietersen powers England past Windies

Last updated on: October 29, 2006 00:23 IST
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Kevin Pietersen redeemed his batting form to pilot England to a face-saving three-wicket victory over the West Indies in their concluding league match of the Champions Trophy tournament in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

Pietersen hammered an unbeaten 90 to lead England's successful chase of the West Indies' challenging total of 272 for 4 in the Group 'A' encounter under the lights at Motera's Sardar Patel stadium.

Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell set the platform for Pietersen with identical scores of 50 each in an opening stand of 82 runs.

England suffered a minor setback when they lost captain Andrew Flintoff (25) and Paul Collingwood (0) in quick succession, but Pietersen nursed the middle and lower order to give England a much-needed victory.

It was, however, just a consolation victory, as England were already out of the reckoning after losing their first two matches against India and Australia.

The West Indies were already assured of a berth in the semi-finals, but whether they will finish atop or second in the group is yet to be decided.

That will be decided after the league engagements are wrapped up on Sunday, with the match between Australia and India at Mohali.

Earlier, the West Indies owed their total to fluent centuries from Dwayne Bravo and Chris Gayle. There was no let up in Caribbean aggression as Bravo (112 not out) and Gayle (101) set England a target, with an asking rate of 5.46.

West Indies innings:

Gayle began in his customary aggressive manner, dispatching Jon Lewis to the mid-on ropes in the bowler's opening over.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul delighted the sparse crowd with majestically executed back-to-back fours of James Anderson.

The West Indies openers seemed in no difficulty against the English seamers, who delivered some rank bad balls that found their way to the fence.

However, the stand was cut short as Chanderpaul, dropped by Ian Bell at short mid wicket on 11, departed in the sixth over.

Lewis, who came into the team in place of an off-colour Stephen Harmison, got the first breakthrough with a delivery that moved in after pitching on the off-stump and found Chanderpaul (13) plumb in front of middle stump.

There was some excitement among the crowd in the 11th over as England captain Andrew Flintoff decided to have a go with the ball -- for the first time since June following an ankle injury -- but failed to cut much ice in his first spell of three overs.

Bravo, who came at one down, took little time before opening up and gained in confidence as the innings progressed.

The Trinidadian soon overshadowed his senior partner and began playing shots off his legs, before bringing up the 100 of the innings in the 23rd over with a lofted boundary of left arm spinner Michael Yardy.

Yardy, however, could have extracted revenge on the youngster, but failed to latch on to a caught and bowled chance with Bravo on 44.

The right-handed batsman got to his half-century by rocketing Yardy to the fine leg fence, while Gayle reached the same landmark in the very next over with a single of Jamie Dalrymple.

England innings:

The England run chase got off to a flier, with Strauss letting loose a barrage of strokes, paying scant respect to any of the young Caribbean pacers, who are being spoken of in glowing terms of late.

The 29-year-old left-hander warmed up for the assault by sending Jerome Taylor to the fine leg fence, and followed up with another exquisite cover drive as the over produced a dozen runs.

The Middlesex willower then cut Edwards to the ropes and smashed Corey Collymore through the extra cover and backward point to carry the battle into the rival camp.

England reached 50 in the seventh over, with the other opener, Bell, exhibiting sweet timing to find the gap between cover and point.

Strauss got a 'life' in the 10th over when he was dropped by Gayle of Collimore, before racing to his half-century of 46 balls.

Gayle, however, made amends soon after as an exasperated West Indies captain Brian Lara brought him into the attack.

The part-time spinner, who finished with 3-31, got rid of the dangerous looking Strauss as the batsman played all over a skidding delivery and saw his bails dislodged.

Flintoff and Bell played sensibly to carry England to the three-digit mark in the 17th over. The England captain switched to his aggressive mode in the 19th over, punishing Taylor with three wonderfully struck boundaries.

England were scoring at more than a run a ball, but Gayle played the spoilsport yet again, with a double wicket in the 21st over.

Flintoff (25) was gone stepping out to lift Gayle, and holing out to Taylor in the deep, bringing the 44-run partnership to an end.

Paul Collingwood (0) departed two balls later, poking at a ball spinning away and Bravo accepted the offering in the slip.

Bell reached his 50 with a glanced single. The right-hander was, however, not destined to last longer. Kevin Petersen pushed to midwicket, and the batsmen scampered to exchange places, but Bell was run out by a direct throw from Lara.

Michael Yardy (10) became the victim of a dubious umpiring decision, as television replays showed Bravo taking a bump catch off Marlon Samuels, as England found half their side back in the pavilion for 180 in the 38th over.

England looked headed for their third straight defeat after the loss of wickets. But Pietersen led the middle order resurgence with a calculated knock that contained nine fours and a six from 86 balls.

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