SHARJAH // Sometimes, every so very occasionally, it is possible to lapse into thinking Kevin Pietersen really is more hassle than he is worth. That he is no longer part of the conversation, and can be confined to memory.
Plenty have tried. English cricket? He conquered that, then looked out of the window, started whistling, and civil war broke out. They tried to erase him from view, so he went and scored 355 not out. And thus he was rather tricky to ignore after all.
The England fallout hurried him into a life exclusively as a Twenty20 globetrotter. That, too, has started to sour just lately. Specifically, when the Australia coach suggested he should be eased out of the Big Bash League because he was, well, more hassle than he was worth.
“Time for [Melbourne Stars] to move KP on,” Darren Lehmann wrote on Twitter last month. “Spent too much money on him and didn’t win. Don’t want to listen to his excuses anymore.”
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Pietersen had, in fact, top scored for the Stars in the BBL, but Lehmann’s words lingered through a run of low scores with the bat that extended to the start of the HBL Pakistan Super League here in the UAE.
Three runs in three trips to the crease, and back-to-back golden ducks were the most inglorious start to the PSL.
He had already pulled the ladder up on the idea of playing at the Indian Premier League next month, too. Was this really the beginning of the end? He is 37 on his next birthday, after all.
And then all of a sudden, boom — or, BOOM! to borrow from his own digital vernacular — he goes and does something like he did for Quetta Gladiators against Lahore Qalandars on Saturday.
Eighty-eight from 42 balls. Eight sixes in all, including six from the last nine balls he faced. A five-wicket victory fashioned from nowhere. Chasing down 201, with seven delivery balls to spare. His team on top of the table again. Turns out KP is not done yet.
“I’ve come off a Big Bash where I’ve top scored in the Big Bash, so a couple of low scores doesn’t bother me,” Pietersen, in spiky mood after the game, said.
“It bothers a lot of other people talking about the game, but it doesn’t bother me. Runs don’t bother me, either.
“I do the processes the way I’ve always done my processes, and I think about the game the way I’ve always done it. If I’m successful, I’m successful.”
According to Cameron Delport, one of the defeated Qalandars batsmen, it is barely possible for bowlers to limit Pietersen in that kind of form. “The striking like that at the end from KP … you don’t get that every day,” Delport said.
Neither is one spectacular innings a guarantee of a return to form, though, according to Pietersen.
“No one deserves success in life,” the former England captain said. “You’ve got to work for it, you’ve got to enjoy it. In life, and in sport, you have more bad days than you have good days. I’ve just proved that.
“It doesn’t mean I’m going to get runs for the rest of the tournament, but it’s nice that we’ve got a victory.”
And Pietersen has no regrets on turning down a potentially lucrative few weeks in India, either.
“I’m going to play the next week or so, and then I’m done,” he said of his decision to skip the forthcoming IPL.
“I need to spend time with my family and kids. Cricket is not everything to me. I’ve got a young family and your family only grows up once. If I’m going to spend two months away from my daughter, who’s one year of age, no, not interested.”
Smith guides United to last-ball win
In the later match, Dwayne Smith’s half-century ensured Islamabad United bounced back from their rain-affected loss to Karachi Kings 24 hours earlier, as they beat Peshawar Zalmi by five wickets off the final delivery.
The West Indian opener scored 72 not out and shared in a stand worth 64 with Shane Watson that was only broken by a run out on the penultimate ball of the match in a thrilling finish at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Amad Butt came to the wicket and nervelessly drove the winning runs straight past Junaid Khan, the bowler.
A pair of bowlers from opposite ends of the experience scale had earlier helped restrict Peshawar to 136 for nine.
Mohammed Sami, who turns 36 on Friday, took three for 26, while Shadab Khan, an 18-year-old legspinner of rich promise, took two.
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