Saturday, November 28, 2009

Colly confident KP will find form

England's most in-form batsman Paul Collingwood is confident it is only a matter of time before Kevin Pietersen starts making big runs again too.

Collingwood, who last week marked his record 171st one-day international cap with an unbeaten hundred at Centurion and added another 86 in a losing cause at Newlands yesterday, has already seen plenty of evidence that the "old KP" is on his way back.
Pietersen shared a fourth-wicket stand of 84 with Collingwood last night as England lost by 112 runs to allow South Africa to level the series at 1-1 with two to play, starting at St George's tomorrow.

By the mercurial South Africa-born batsman's standards, his 45 was an understated performance.

But Collingwood points out it would be entirely unreasonable to expect Pietersen to be instantly back to his destructive best in only a handful of innings so far since four months out after Achilles surgery.

"I wouldn't start putting him under any kind of pressure," he said.

"If you think of the lay-off he's had I don't think you'd expect him to come in and score hundreds straight away."

Even so Collingwood, who has often largely stood and admired Pietersen's world-beating strokeplay from 22 yards during previous partnerships, saw enough in Cape Town to conclude his team-mate is close to hitting top form.

"It's fair to say that there are some of the shots he's playing, with the old Kevin Pietersen there," he added.

"It's not going to be too long before he's making a massive contribution, just like he used to.

"He's not going to hit his straps 100% straight away. But he's certainly showing signs that he's got a big innings round the corner.

"As soon as he makes that big innings, the old flamboyant KP will be back - because he's certainly not far away."

Even before the big runs flow, Collingwood sees the mere presence of Pietersen as a major asset for England.

"It's just great to see him back on the pitch, running around fine - with that energy back," he reported.

"You can do as much training as you want in the nets, but the centre is where it counts.

"So far, he's looked pretty solid without having that major innings. But he's that kind of world-class player who will be clicking soon.

"Just having his presence in the batting line-up is the crucial thing.

"No opponents want to bowl against KP. It gives the rest of the lads a lot of confidence."

England have already drawn a Twenty20 series against their hosts this autumn, eliminated them from the Champions Trophy back in September and are now in a tough battle for this ODI series.

"So far, it's been a little bit of a rollercoaster ride, in terms of results and performances," Collingwood said.

"It's been an up-and-down tour.
"But a lot of credit goes to South Africa and the way they bounced back last night.
"Right from ball one, their intent was very good and obviously put us under a lot of pressure.

"But we're not going to get it right all the time."
Collingwood is banking on it being England's turn to fight back.
"We hope in new conditions in Port Elizabeth we can adjust to them and play the better cricket again tomorrow," he said.

As for his own outstanding run of consistency, the Durham batsman insists he is doing little different - merely trying hard, as he always has.

South Africa have admitted they are having to reassess Collingwood's capabilities, and he admits: "It's nice when the opposition are looking at you like that.
"Obviously, I feel in very good form at the moment - seeing the ball well.
"I'm enjoying the wickets out here, I gained a lot of confidence from playing in the Champions Trophy on faster and bouncier wickets.

"I've been working on my game over the years - trying to improve - and I'm just starting to see some of those benefits.

"Confidence is high, and it's amazing what you can do when confidence is that high.
"I'm not doing anything that different. I'm probably striking the ball a little bit harder than I used to and I've opened a couple more areas out technically."

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