KP-less England aim for semi-finals

Express May 09, 2010

Fresh from thrashing South Africa in their Super Eight match, England now look ahead to their clash against New Zealand, who overcame defending champions Pakistan, in a bid to qualify for the semifinals of the World Twenty20.

England scraped through to the Super Eight after two rainaffected matches. With New Zealand having lost three of the four Twenty20s the two teams have played against each other, England’s destructive form puts them in pole position for a lastfour spot. Kevin Pietersen is heading back home for the birth of his first child, confident that he will return to help England reach the final. Pietersen said what he hopes will be a temporary farewell to the squad in style with a superb innings against South Africa.

Victory over New Zealand will guarantee England a semi-final place and even defeat may not spell the end of their hopes, with net run-rate in line to come to their rescue if required. “I’ll be dashing across the Atlantic and, I hope, dashing back,” said Pietersen. “If we get through to the semi-finals, I’ll come in the day before.” Pietersen put on 94 with Craig Kieswetter before the spinners took five wickets between them. “Today was close to perfect, apart from a couple of wide balls. To beat South Africa so convincingly was amazing. It’s just so great to be part of a dressing room that plays such great cricket.”

New Zealand would be in a buoyant mood after their onerun win over Pakistan. Brendon McCullum’s return to form would be a huge relief given the top-order failure. Captain Daniel Vettori recorded a personal best to ensure respectability after the Kiwis had slumped to 58 for four. “We are proud of what we achieved and it gives us a chance of going into the semis,” said Vettori. “We were a little under par but we back ourselves, that has always been our strength in any form of the game.”