Kevin Pietersen © Getty Images
Kevin Pietersen © Getty Images

Durban: Kevin Pietersen continued his successful return to his country of birth on Wednesday when he helped the KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins reach the final of South Africa’s Twenty20 franchise competition. The former England batsman hit 27 off 10 balls as the Dolphins beat the Cape Cobras by five runs in a knock-out eliminator.  The Dolphins will meet the Titans in the final at Centurion on Saturday. Pietersen, who flies to Melbourne on Sunday to play in Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL) Twenty20 event, will go into the final on top of the competition batting averages with 391 runs at an average of 97.75. But he said the star of Wednesday’s match was 19-year-old all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo.

The Cobras needed nine runs off the last over with four wickets in hand but lost two wickets, one to a run-out, and could only add three runs. Phehlukwayo took two for 28.

“It’s just brilliant,” said Pietersen. “It’s T20 cricket at its best. It’s a great victory for the lads. Andile was just brilliant in the last over. He’s got such a calm head on his shoulders.”

Openers Morne van Wyk and Craig Delport put on 99 for the first wicket to set up a Dolphins’ total of 178 for three. South African Twenty20 International (T20I) discard Richard Levi slammed 85 off 43 balls before the Cobras lost their way, finishing on 173 for eight.

The South African-born star England batsman has not played international cricket since the Ashes 2013-14, following which the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) axed him from the side. Pietersen has, since then, resorted to featuring in various T20 leagues around the world.