In Tests, Pietersen continued his sublime form since his debut by scoring back-to-back hundreds against West Indies at home in 2007, which included his highest score till date of 226. And he also scored a hundred against India, making his position as one of the world’s best Test Cricket batsman confirmed. His hundred against New Zealand in Napier was a series-winning one and he looked unstoppable as he played all kinds of shots, the pull, hook, drives and so on. A fine run of form in early 2008 and his increasing reputation in the team was primarily the reason why the selectors made him captain of the Test and ODI team after the retirement of Michael Vaughan, following a home series defeat against South Africa in Tests.
His captaincy stint didn’t go according to plan. Although he did lead the team to a ODI series whitewash against South Africa, yet this was the beginning of the worst to happen. Pietersen was average with the bat and captaincy as his team was comprehensively thrashed in India, 0-5 out of 5 ODIS. And in Tests, they lost 0-1 out of 2. England were expected to give India a tough fight on the tour but the team unity was lacking, looking at the players body language. Later there were revelations that all was definitely not well between Pietersen and coach Peter Moores. A public banter followed and as a result, Moores was sacked as coach and Pietersen was also sacked as skipper of the team in all formats. However, one never thought that this could create such a negative impact on his mindset that he loses his confidence completely.
Ever since that period, Pietersen has only scored a solitary Test hundred, which was against West Indies in February 2009. As his confidence lowered, he was afraid to be the aggressive player that he usually is. What followed was more controversy because of his switch-hit which he endorsed, considering that he wanted to be innovative. Secondly, he also played in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore as the leagues most expensive player and captained the team unsuccessfully. The IPL stint didn’t do wonders to his batting as too much pressure perhaps got him injured and he only played for England in the first of the 5 Ashes Test matches against Australia at home. Then came South Africa again, which completed his career cycle. He was the pale shadow of the Pietersen the world saw when he made his debut four years ago. A string of single-digit scores in the ODIS there and just one half-century in seven Test innings confirmed that the law of averages finally caught up with him.
Times were bad for him as another chink in his armour was exposed. The left-arm spinner can get the better of him. Shakib al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain got him dismissed the most number of times in 2010. He was disappointing in the home season against Bangladesh and Pakistan earlier this year, despite winning the man-of-the-tournament award in the T-20 World Cup in West Indies, which England won. He did well in the IPL but T-20 didn’t help boost his confidence in Tests and ODIS. However, his favourite opposition is Australia and the Ashes brings the best out of him. He is on a roll with a double hundred at Adelaide (again!) and for sure, this innings has witnessed the rebirth of Pietersen, who like a not-so-true Englishman, attacked the Australian bowlers to set the tone for a magnificent series.
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