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Pietersen hails Flintoff's return

Andrew Flintoff
Flintoff showed an impressive return to form at Headingley

Captain Kevin Pietersen saluted the return of "superstar" Andrew Flintoff after England's opening day-night win over South Africa at Headingley.

Flintoff blasted 78 in a 158-run stand with Pietersen and then took two for 46 as South Africa were dismissed for 255.

Pietersen said: "The man is a superstar, some people are born into this world who are just superstars.

"The ability Flintoff has with that cricket ball when he bowls is absolutely phenomenal."

In his most consistent display since returning from ankle and side strain injuries mid-way through the summer, Flintoff scored his first half-century since scoring an unbeaten 72 against New Zealand in Hobart more than a year ago.

And it helped maintain England's change of fortunes since Pietersen was made captain.

Pietersen himself gave a man-of-the-match display, which included two wickets and an unbeaten 90 during England's 20-run day-night victory.

But he was happy to lay the plaudits on Flintoff, who contributed his highest one-day international score in nearly three years.

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Pietersen said: "He can bowl in practice with one arm and still hit a length and I'm fortunate to have a bloke like that who I can ask to knock the stumps over at the death and he bowls those kind of deliveries at the death - he's brilliant."

The victory also marked a successful return to one-day international cricket for Steve Harmison.

The 29-year-old Durham fast bowler claimed two for 43 from his 10 overs only 24 hours after agreeing to reverse his decision of two years ago to retire from one-day international cricket following an approach by Pietersen.

Pietersen confirmed 29-year-old Harmison would be available this winter and believes his comeback can only strengthen the one-day options.

"This is the stage he belongs on, not playing for Durham in front of 34 people, he should be playing in front of 34,000, 40,000 or 50,000, that's where Steve Harmison belongs," said Pietersen.

"Steve wants to play for England, he wants to play on the biggest stage, which is where he's performing on at the moment."

Pietersen also called on his side to keep the momentum going when they regroup for the next day-night encounter against the tourists at Trent Bridge on Tuesday.

"There's some really positive stuff happening in English cricket at the moment but there's no point getting ahead of ourselves because we start every series well," he added.

"We always win the first game and then mess the next four up. The key to this victory is to make sure we focus on Tuesday and we turn up on Tuesday with the same energy, the same buzz and the same confidence."

see also
Harmison rejects cash motivation
22 Aug 08 |  England
Shah to bat at three for England
18 Aug 08 |  England
England stopped by Scottish rain
18 Aug 08 |  Cricket
South Africa in England in 2008
22 Aug 08 |  Cricket

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