Pietersen excited at opener role

Batsman set to be promoted up order for Cricket World Cup as England beat Canada in warmup while Pakistanis dope-tested.

    Rizwan Cheema's brilliant 93 for Canada upstaged Pietersen in their warmup match in Bangladesh [AFP] 

    After a career spent either piling on quick runs down the order or giving away his wicket cheaply, Kevin Pietersen said he was "excited" at the prospect of a role as a Cricket World Cup opener.

    The batsman was promoted to the top of the order during a tight warmup win over Canada and may retain his place there for the tournament, which begins on Saturday.

    England have struggled to find a quick and plentiful supply of runs from a one-day opener since the international retirement of Marcus Trescothick, although the past year has seen captain Andrew Strauss enjoy his best limited-overs form.

    Pietersen, usually a number four, made 24 off 28 balls against Canada in Fatullah, near Dhaka.

    But it was wicketkeeper Matt Prior's 78 that did the most to get England to 243 all out.

    England scraped home by 16 runs after a blistering 93 off 70 balls from Pakistan-born Rizwan Cheema threatened to give Canada a shock victory.

    Post-Ashes thrashing

    Pietersen was encouraged by his own display, which came after England had discussed the prospect of him opening towards the end of an Ashes-winning tour which nevertheless concluded with a 6-1 one-day series thrashing by Australia.

    "One bloke from Canada played beautifully, hit the ball out of the middle of the bat and played a wonderful innings. Hats off to him, but we still won the game"

    Kevin Pietersen, England batsman

    "It's really exciting - a nice positive move going into the World Cup," he told Sky Sports.

    "We spoke about it going into the end of the Australia tour. We feel at the top of the innings is a really nice time to bat. I'll look to play my normal game," the South Africa-born batsman insisted.

    "It's not a pinch-hitting role. It was put to me, and I was very excited – and the team are right behind the decision. I'm fine. I have a nice little feeling about it."

    Encouragingly for England, fast bowler Stuart Broad returned from an  Ashes-ending stomach injury and a recent bout of illness with five wickets for 37 runs.
    "At the end of the day one bloke from Canada played beautifully, hit the ball out of the middle of the bat and played a wonderful innings – and that can happen on any particular day," said Pietersen.

    "So hats off to him – but we still won the game."

    All-rounder Cheema, left reflecting on what might have been, said: "It feels great when the ball is going out of the park.

    "If we'd not lost so many wickets early, it would be a different story."

    Random tests

    Three Pakistani cricketers including pace bowler Shoaib Akther were taken for a random dope test ahead of the World Cup, a team official said on Thursday.

    "The ICC conducted a dope test of Shoaib Akthar, wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and Umar Gul on Wednesday," team manager Intikhab Alam told the Reuters news agency.
    "It's a normal process and I think some members of every team will be tested at some stage," Alam said.

    Shoaib, who was recalled for the World Cup after being out of action for a major part of the last three years, tested positive for the banned substance nandrolone in 2006.

    He did not play against Bangladesh in Pakistan's first warm-up match on Tuesday.

    Pakistan will sign off their preparation for the February 19-April 2 tournament on Friday with a warm-up game against England at Fatullah.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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