ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights, Barbados: England 151-4 (19.3 overs) beat Pakistan 147-9 (20 overs) by six wickets
Pietersen's half-century was his third in Twenty20 internationals
Kevin Pietersen starred as England beat Pakistan by six wickets with three balls remaining in their first Super Eight match of the ICC World Twenty20.
Pietersen completed a brilliant catch in the deep before adding an unbeaten 73 off 52 balls as Pakistan's total of 147-9 proved inadequate in Barbados.
Michael Yardy (2-19) and Stuart Broad (2-25) both impressed with the ball.
Pietersen put on 60 with captain Paul Collingwood as England cruised home against the defending champions.
A victory on Saturday against South Africa at the same ground should now be enough to send Collingwood's men through to the semi-finals with a game to spare.
After some tough times on slow wickets in rainy Guyana, England were greeted by a decent contingent of travelling supporters in Barbados, plus a wicket that was more conducive to their brand of cricket.
It had plenty of pace and bounce early on, although it had largely worn off by the time England batted, suggesting Collingwood did the right thing by electing to field first after winning the toss.
There were some early concerns, however, when Kamran Akmal pulled the first ball, bowled by Ryan Sidebottom, for six.
Sidebottom, along with Tim Bresnan and Broad, persisted in bowling short, testing the cross-batted shot-making of Pakistan's openers.
The run-rate did not get out of hand, and Broad had Akmal caught behind in the fifth over to give England an important foothold.
Nevertheless, after Yardy had been hit for 12 in his first over, Pakistan looked ominously poised at 60-1 after nine overs.
But the wicket of the other opener, Salman Butt, changed the game quite dramatically.
Butt speared Graeme Swann to short extra-cover, where Collingwood nonchalantly took a tough catch, and Yardy returned to devastating effect, taking two wickets in his last three overs - and conceding just seven runs.
Broad bowled well on a wicket with some pace and bounce
His accurate slow left-armers could also have brought a third wicket but Craig Kieswetter missed a straightforward stumping when Umar Akmal, Pakistan's top scorer with 30, had only reached five.
Yet England were working their way through the middle order effectively, and received a spectacular bonus when Pakistan's captain, the destructive Shahid Afridi, ran himself out from his first ball as he pondered taking a single to Luke Wright off Yardy that was never on.
When Umar, who struck a terrific six wide of long on off Swann, was brilliantly caught by Pietersen in front of the Pakistan dug-out following a 30-yard sprint along the boundary edge, Pakistan were 118-6 with barely three overs to go.
But there was a disappointing conclusion, or a very welcome one from a Pakistan point of view, when Bresnan missed an easy run-out chance to finish off the innings four balls early.
Bresnan compounded the error by giving up 14 runs from the last four balls of the innings to make England's task with the bat that bit harder.
But now it was the turn of Pakistan, and more specifically Saeed Ajmal, to toss the initiative back to Collingwood's men.
Fielding at mid-on to the right-handed Kieswetter, and mid-off to the left-handed Michael Lumb, he proceeded to drop three catches in the first five overs, only one of which was at all difficult.
Pietersen enjoyed himself in England's first victory of the tournament
Lumb was playing particularly well, and both batsmen piled into the fourth over, taking 19 runs off Mohammad Asif.
Ajmal redeemed himself when he had Lumb stumped in his first over, before Kieswetter was caught at long-on off Abdul Razzaq two overs after driving Mohammad Hafeez for an enormous six which took a chunk of masonry out of the Sir Garfield Sobers pavilion.
Pakistan needed to make the most of any chances, but instead they did the opposite, Razzaq dropping a catch off his own bowling when Pietersen struck a drive straight back to the bowler.
England's number four was in the mood to make Pakistan pay, even though he hobbled through the middle part of his innings after hitting one ball against his own ankle.
He dominated the stand with Collingwood, and was able to put away all the bowlers with some ease, with sixes off Ajmal and Afridi and some perfectly-placed drives and pulls for fours off the seamers.
Collingwood (16) finally holed out in the deep, and for once Eoin Morgan was unable to play a significant hand.
But by the time the final over started only two runs were needed, and after a dot and a leg-bye Pietersen stroked Ajmal to the extra-cover boundary.
It was the England batsman's third half-century in T20 internationals, not far short of his best score at this level of 79 against Zimbabwe in 2007.