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Cricket World Cup: Kevin Pietersen confirms opener role

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011
Dates: 19 February-2 April Venues: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV (see listings), Red Button & BBC Sport website at 2200 GMT every day (UK users only); Live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website, some games also on BBC Radio 4 LW) and live text commentary on all England matches and selected other major games; Also live on Sky Sports England v Canada scorecard

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen will attempt to get the England innings off to a quick start

Kevin Pietersen has said he and captain Andrew Strauss will open for England during the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Pietersen will fill the problem position, one he has not occupied in 110 previous one-day internationals.

With Matt Prior failing to impress at the top of the order in Australia, England picked Pietersen to partner Strauss in the warm-up against Canada.

"I'm excited by it, the team are excited by it and I'm looking forward to it," Pietersen, 30, stated.

It is a surprising move by England and follows reports in a number of newspapers that the Surrey batsman, who has disappointed for two years in one-day internationals, will look to retire from 50-over cricket after the 14-team tournament in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Although Pietersen himself has denied the speculation, many journalists have stood by it, believing that he intends to focus on Tests and Twenty20 cricket, including the Indian Premier League.

But the big-hitting batsman, who hit two centuries in the 2007 World Cup from the middle order and made 24 from 28 balls in England's 16-run win over Canada, has put on a public show of enthusiasm ahead of the big tournament starting on Saturday.

He added: "It's a nice positive move going into the World Cup. We spoke about it going into the end of the Australia tour. We feel at the top of the innings is a really nice time to bat.

"I'll look to play my normal game. It's not a pinch-hitting role. It was put to me, and the team are right behind the decision. I'm fine. It could be nice, especially in the sub-continent. I have a nice little feeling about it."

England's overall performance produced plenty of grounds for concern with a number of players continuing the poor form they had shown in the 6-1 series defeat to Australia.

Pietersen, however, refused to dwell on the negatives.

He stated: "It was nice to get a few boys back from injury. They were tough conditions today, but some really good stuff from our lads - Stuart Broad coming back, Ajmal Shahzad coming back and Matt Prior playing beautifully in the middle of the innings.

Canada's Rizwan Cheema stunned England with 93 from 71 balls, an innings described as "wonderful" by Pietersen.

Cheema, born in Pakistan, commented: "It feels great when the ball is going out of the park. We just lost too many early wickets when we didn't get behind the ball.

"They bowled pretty well. If we'd not lost so many early, it would be a different story."

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see also
Broad stars but England struggle
16 Feb 11 |  England
Swann not guilty of drink-driving
16 Feb 11 |  Nottingham
Wednesday's Cricket World Cup gossip
16 Feb 11 |  Cricket
S Africa beat Aussies in warm-up
15 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Ireland beat Zimbabwe in warm-up
15 Feb 11 |  Ireland
Tremlett set for emergency call
15 Feb 11 |  England
England tour ends in heavy defeat
06 Feb 11 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup warm-up matches
16 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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