While his teammates were having a blast on a golf course, Kevin Pietersen appeared for an optional practice session at Motera accompanied by the two English spin doctors of Indian origin, Monty Panesar and Samit Patel.
Dressed in shorts and a sleeveless shirt, KP sweated it out in the afternoon heat watched by batting coach Graham Gooch and bowling consultant Mushtaq Ahmed. He hadn’t quite fired in the two warm-up matches. Perhaps, something in his game had to be tightened before the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15.
The spinners put him through a haul of variations. Light on feet (as always) he stepped out to Panesar and Patel.
Now it was time was a pace session. England quick Stuart Meaker, who has joined the squad as cover for the injured Steven Finn, charged in full pelt. Pace or spin, KP was unflappable. Wait, he was far from done.
After 50 minutes, he allowed himself a short break before requesting Flower for some throw-downs. The knock session went on for a quarter of an hour. Wait, he was still not done.
Pietersen was keen to exchange notes as well. First, he sought a review from Gooch and Flower. And later, he turned to Mushtaq who appeared to share the trade secrets of spinners — the way they think and construct an over to outsmart batsmen.
Finally, after being satisfied at nets, he allowed himself a few light moments with Patel. The focus was laser-sharp. He was even miffed by the moving cameraman a few feet away.
Wouldn’t England be elated? A focussed Pietersen is their best bet of winning a series in India. It’s something England haven’t achieved since 1984. The ‘text’ row had threatened to bring his career to a painfully premature end. Wouldn’t the sport have been that much poorer?
The recent gladiatorial duel with Dale Steyn in the Headingley Test was the stuff of legend. That’s what Pietersen at his best brings to the England table. Should he be at peace with himself, who knows what would be in store in the series?