Kevin Pietersen wary of Sri Lanka heat


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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen believes the searing heat will be the biggest challenge facing England in their Test series against Sri Lanka, but admits his old nemesis of left-arm spin must also be tamed.

England have worked hard at acclimatising to the soaring temperatures and draining humidity by training in the middle of the day but Pietersen ranks it as the most physically demanding trip of his career.

He is also aware that Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka's first-choice spinner, is waiting to test the theory that Pietersen has a blind spot against slow left-armers but he is clear about which problem he is most concerned about.

"Sri Lanka have magnificent players - obviously the likes of (Mahela) Jayawardene, (Kumar) Sangakkara and (Tillakaratne) Dilshan - but their attack is very good too," he said.

"They've got a left-arm spinner, Herath, who bowls wicket to wicket and you saw against Pakistan what a guy like Abdur Rehman did to us.

"Left-arm spin is a huge part of the game now and it's not going to be easy at all.

"But it's not really the spinners (we have to worry about) out here, it's the heat. I that will be the biggest threat to us.

"It's unbelievable, make no bones about that, but it's something we have to try and get over as quickly as possible.

"I'm trying to just not do too much and to conserve a lot of energy, not run around like a crazy fool like you do in England or Australia or South Africa, where you can afford to do that.

"It's something we have to try and control. On days off we need to get out, swim in the sea, spend some time in the sun and let your body get used to it.

"If you only spend time in the dressing room or in the ground and you try and take conditions in like that it's not going to work. You need to get out as much as you can."

England's pre-Test preparations suffered something of a blow yesterday when it was revealed Ravi Bopara is suffering with a side strain that will rule him out of bowling in the Test series.

The Essex all-rounder was favourite for the number six spot and was expected to contribute some relief overs of medium pace.

Tim Bresnan and Samit Patel are on hand if England decide they need that extra bowling option, but Pietersen does not think Bopara's injury will hinder his selection prospects.

"I'm not sure it's a big setback, because he's hardly going to take you seven wickets in a Test match," he said.

"He might bowl you four overs (in an innings). I can bowl those overs, Jonathan Trott can bowl those four overs.

"It's not a massive setback."

Pietersen was pleased by the tourists' warm-up victory against a Sri Lankan Development XI this week, a match that saw Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott score centuries and four other players - including himself - pass 50.

"The guys really stood up and and everybody went out and got runs," he said.

"It was really, really good. We didn't play very well in Dubai in the Test matches but the batters went away and turned things around."