England vs Pakistan – Strauss eyes explosive Pietersen return

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Andrew Strauss is confident Kevin Pietersen is reporting for England duty ready to produce his best again – irrespective of the rights and wrongs of his local difficulties with Hampshire.

Thanks to the mercurial middle-order batsman’s absence from the one-day international series against Bangladesh, he has had no cricket since the previous 50-over assignment against Australia.

Pietersen is priced at 10/3 to announce his comeback with a century in the first innings of today’s first Test against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.

Short of runs in those five matches, Pietersen was released to play for his county in a 40-over fixture to aid his preparation for the four-match npower Test series with Pakistan.

But Hampshire were not on message to help a player who is to leave them, probably in favour of a London county, at the end of this summer and did not give him the desired playing time.

Strauss knows, though, that he can rely on Pietersen to have himself in the best possible shape – even without match practice.

“I’m not concerned particularly about his lack of cricket,” Strauss said. The old adage states that class is a more constant virtue than form, and Pietersen is 3/1 to be England’s top runscorer of the series.

“He’s in a good state of mind; he has had a good rest; he has the bit between his teeth,” Strauss added of Pietersen. “I think he wants to come out and prove himself again. I think he’ll have a really good series.”

Pietersen gave himself and Strauss a moment of worry yesterday morning, when he fell over a football in warm-up. But unlike Ajmal Shahzad, replaced in the squad by Tim Bresnan because of an ankle injury, there was no harm done to Pietersen.

How will Pietersen fare against Pakistan? He is 7/2 to be England’s topscorer in the first innings. See the full Top England 1st Innings Runscorer market.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.