After waiting three years for his eighth one-day hundred, Kevin Pietersen took three days to score his ninth. It could be reasonably concluded that his move to open the innings has been successful and last night he conducted and cajoled England to a 4-0 whitewash of Pakistan.
He used all the experience of 127 one-day internationals to secure his highest score, 130, as England completed an improbable rout by four wickets with four balls to spare. It was by some distance the best match of the series, though that will be of no consolation to Pakistan.
In some ways, this was a better innings than Pietersen's hundred in the third match, because it needed him to control proceedings single-handedly almost from the start. Having given England a solid opening in the first three matches – their lowest partnership was 57 – the first-wicket pair were parted when Alastair Cook was out lbw to the second ball.
At 68 for 4 in the 15th over it looked done and dusted for Pakistan. Saeed Ajmal had taken two wickets in three balls, including that of the debutant Jos Buttler. But Pietersen played with skill on a slow pitch. His innings took him 153 balls, he hit 12 fours and two sixes but his rapidly-run singles and twos were vitally important.
"It's often been commented that I don't play the big situations," he said. "But I knew with the total they had that if I batted for 50 overs we'd come close. I just wanted to take the game deep and target some of their bowlers as well and that's what we did. You need experience to keep the situation very simple, back your ability and your work ethic."
Supported by Craig Kieswetter in a fifth-wicket partnership of 109, the target of 238 became attainable. Pietersen had one heart-stopping moment when he was given out lbw, playing a switch hit when he was at 80. He called for a review, which showed that the ball had hit him outside off stump.
When it looked as though he and the newly confident Samit Patel would see England home, Pietersen was out, trying to finish it with a booming drive which squirted to point.
Danny Briggs, a 20-year-old left-arm spinner from the Isle of Wight barely turned a ball in his 10 overs but he was as calm as you like. His first international wicket was a good one, Umar Akmal, caught on the boundary. His second was a little better, Shoaib Malik, leg before, sweeping.
Briggs was the least expensive of England's bowlers. Jade Dernbach took four wickets, one with his second ball and two in the last over, while Steve Finn ended the series as he had played throughout, with menace.Reuse content