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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Pietersen top of world rankings
Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen - first England batsman in two years to lead rankings
England head into the Super 8s stage of the World Cup with batsman Kevin Pietersen top of the world rankings.

Pietersen becomes only the third England player, after Marcus Trescothick and Allan Lamb, to lead the rankings for one-day batsmen.

The 26-year-old is averaging 60.50 in the World Cup, having scored half-centuries against New Zealand and Kenya in the group stage.

He replaces Australia's Mike Hussey at the top of the list.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has moved into second place in the rankings compiled by the International Cricket Council with Hussey dropping down to third after a poor start to his World Cup.

606: DEBATE
CM

Pietersen's England team-mate Saj Mahmood said: "He's a fantastic player and I think he deserves to be in the top spot. The way he's performed has been brilliant.

"It's difficult bowling at him, because he has these really strange shots which he pulls out of nowhere, and you think to yourself 'how has he hit that?' I've never been hit like that before.'

In the bowling department, South Africa's Shaun Pollock retains the top spot but Shane Bond of New Zealand has climbed three places to second and Sri Lanka spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has moved from 10th to third having taken six wickets in the World Cup so far.

Pollock also leads the all-rounder list with West Indies' Chris Gayle in second and Andrew Flintoff third.

Mahmood, a lowly 87th in the rankings, surprisingly played on Saturday against Kenya ahead of Jon Lewis (56th) and Liam Plunkett (58th).

I believe that my variations are a strong point of my bowling

Sajid Mahmood

The Lancashire paceman said: "It's a close call between the three of us and it's good to have that sort of competition.

"It will make us work that bit harder in the nets and it's a very healthy competition trying to get into that side and whoever gets the place will deserve it.

"I think I've been bowling pretty well in the nets and I think Michael Vaughan thought I'd been good in the middle of the innings with the different variations I bowl.

"I thought I did pretty well with that against Kenya, although I've not really been practising the variations that much recently because I've been concentrating on consistency of line and length.

"I believe that my variations are a strong point of my bowling anyway and I don't have to practice that as much as line and length and consistency."



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