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Kevin Pietersen: Chris Gayle is fantastic player and great entertainer

Kevin Pietersen is in St Kitts to join the CPL side St. Lucia Zouks © Getty Images and CPLT20
Kevin Pietersen is in St Kitts to join the CPL side St Lucia Zouks © Getty Images and CPLT20

Kevin Pietersen is in St Kitts and Nevis to play for the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Pietersen is looking forward to the experience at CPL as he features in two games for St Lucia. In an exclusive interview with CricketCountry’s Nishad Pai Vaidya, Pietersen spoke about the experiences of playing around the world, the toughest bowlers in Twenty20 (T20) cricket, CPL, and playing against Chris Gayle.

Kevin Pietersen is now in St Kitts to feature in the ongoing Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2014. After playing for the Delhi Daredevils (DD) earlier this year and then turning up for Surrey in England, Pietersen is now set to play for the Darren Sammy-led St Lucia Zouks. Though he will feature in in the remaining two games of the campaign for the side, Pietersen is looking forward to the experience and is gearing up for the match against Chris Gayle’s Jamaica Tallawahs.

Excerpts:

CricketCountry (CC): You come into the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) with two games left for the St Lucia Zouks. How are you looking forward to this experience, especially when the team wants to finish off on a high?

Kevin Pietersen (KP): Yes, we do want to finish off on a high. We want to do well and play every (remaining) game competitively. The way the format is, in the CPL, the top team automatically qualifies for the finals. Team three and four compete with team two to see who qualifies for the final; then you play the final. Every single game is important — with the format, every team wants to end up on top. We are playing Jamaica (Tallawahs), they are at the top of the table and would want to continue their winning streak to qualify for the final. We want to upset them so as to make it easier for the other teams to go to the semi-final. It is very important for us to play well in these two games.

CC: You played in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Delhi Daredevils (DD) and then played a few T20s in England before heading to the Caribbean. What is it like being a T20 traveller — playing with different teammates and adjusting to different cultures etc?

KP:  It is fun; it is exciting. At the stage I am in my career, it is really exciting. I love the IPL; I’ve said it on numerous occasions. The T20 competition in England is testing as we play once a week. When the CPL opportunity came by, I grabbed it with both hands just because I love the Caribbean, the people, the way they go about their business and the good things you associate with cricket. The fun, the enjoyment, the competitiveness on the field, the hard practice and the enjoyment off the field. I’ve been here two days — I’ve settled nicely and got to know the guys. At the end of the day, it is all about winning.

CC: You just mentioned about playing once a week in England. How difficult is it to maintain form in the T20 format, which is quite unpredictable?

KP: It is a lot easier when you play a compact tournament. You play with the team, practice, travel — so it is a lot easier when you are in the team and are able to do that on a daily basis. When you play once a week, it is quite difficult. I found it really hard in terms of keeping my form. It is quite difficult because in T20 cricket, you are supposed to come out there and score straight away. It is testing but it is what it is and you just got deal with it.

CC: In T20 cricket, many bowlers have made a mark such as Lasith Malinga and Sunil Narine. Who do you think is the toughest bowler you have faced in the format and why?

KP: I reckon a spinner who turns it both ways. You’ve got guys like Saeed Ajmal, Narine, (Muttiah) Muralitharan — when he was at his best. The guys who spin it both ways, they are the ones who are the hardest to try and get hold of.

CC: You’ve been getting a lot of starts lately, the 20s and the 30s. What is the key to converting those scores into big ones? In T20 cricket, it’s not often that one may get 50s or 100s.

KP: I wish I knew that. If I knew I would be doing it (laughs).  Yes it is frustrating, I’m getting 20s and 30s every time. But, I have done this before in a series where I have got these 20s and 30s and have been really frustrated about the way I’ve gone about my business. But then one day, you get in and get a big hundred — you end up learning how to score big runs again. It happens — you can’t be in form every day.

CC: You are going to play against Jamaica Tallawahs. Thus, you would be facing off with Chris Gayle. Your thoughts on that contest?

KP: He is a fantastic player, a great entertainer. T20 cricket is his game. They love him here in the Caribbean and he is a good mate of mine. We had a press conference and I spent some time with him. He is a star in the Caribbean and you need iconic players wherever you go. It is good fun and everybody wants him to do well. I’d like to see him do well, but obviously, we want to win. I’d want to see my mates doing well, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to win.

Kevin Pietersen will be representing the St Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) 2014. The CPL 2014 has landed in St. Kitts as it builds up to the final on August 16th. See CPLT20.com for more details

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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