Pietersen flies home for birth

No sooner had Kevin Pietersen blazed England to victory and an almost certain World Twenty20 semi-final place last night than he headed for home. His wife Jessica is expected to give birth to the couple's first child any time and Pietersen is flying home to be present in the maternity ward.

He knew of his impending departure before the Super Eight match against South Africa and it was as if the news of what was happening at home inspired him. His 53 from 33 balls, containing most of the trademark shots which had gone missing in recent months as his form deserted him, took England to an impressive total of 168 for 7. They went on to win by 39 runs, bowling out the South Africans in 19 overs.

"I am off in the next 24 hours and, all being well, I will be back for the next semi-final if there are no complications," said Pietersen. "To beat South Africa so convincingly was amazing."

England's progress is not mathematically guaranteed but it would take a highly improbable sequence of large victories and defeats to deny the team and Pietersen now.