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Pietersen rises to the occasion

Last updated on: April 03, 2010 00:50 IST

Kevin PietersenKevin Pietersen finally broke his jinx in the Indian Premier League. He scored a maiden half-century that lifted Royal Challengers Bangalore to a six-wicket victory against Kings XI Punjab, in Mohali, on Friday.

The South Africa-born England batsman, who signed up for Bangalore last season, had failed to get past the 50-run mark in his previous seven innings. But he finally lifted the gloom with a cracking innings of 66 from 44 deliveries, having hit seven boundaries and a six, that guided Bangalore to 184 for four in 19.1 overs in reply to Punjab's 181 for five.

Pietersen had come into the IPL after a successful outing on the slow pitches in Bangladesh, where he amassed 250 runs in the two-Test series. And Bangalore straightaway drafted him into the eleven, in place of compatriot Eoin Morgan as soon as he was available.

In his first outing of IPL 3, Pietersen showed glimpses of his top form as he smashed 23 from 14 balls in the closing overs against Chennai Super Kings, a match they eventually lost by five wickets.

But in the next match, the former Bangalore captain was assigned more responsibility and sent at number three after the visitors were set a huge 182 for victory by Punjab.

Jacques Kallis failed to fire;  he was caught behind off Shalabh Srivastava for nine, and Manish Pandey also departed soon after for 29.

But Pietersen set about building the innings with a steady partnership of 76 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli to set a solid launching pad for the assault at the end.

It went according to script for Bangalore as Robin Uthappa made the difference in the end, hitting Brett Lee for 25 runs in the 16th over to turn the tide in their favour.

Interestingly, Pietersen never let the spinners settle down; he went after Piyush Chawla, whom he hit for a flat six in his second over. In all, the three Punjab spinners bowled a total of eight overs between but were hit for 62 runs in the middle over, which proved quite crucial in Bangalore's successful run chase.

It was deservering that Pietersen hit the winning runs with a boundary through cover in the final. His efforts helped the Bangalore side rise to second in the standings, with ten points from eight games.

Photographs: IPL/Getty Images