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Rupert Wyman 12th May 2010 - 8:27

If Pietersen is the daddy once again, there will be no stopping England

It may come as a surprise to some but England finally seem to know how to play Twenty20 cricket. In the ICC World Twenty20 they have won three games in a row following their controversial opening loss to the West indies and the no result against Ireland. At the heart of their performances has been Kevin Pietersen.

Pietersen was absent for the last match against New Zealand, as his wife gave birth to his first child, but the Three Lions still managed to defeat the Black Caps to seal their place as Group E winners.

If the new father can return to the Caribbean playing the way he was before he flew home then the 4/5 about an England win against Sri Lanka will look extremely generous.

In the tournament so far the South African-born batsman has scored 159 runs at an average of 53. When he is in form bowlers just can't contain him. Sri Lanka may have a great attack including the ever-dangerous Lasith Malinga but if KP produces the goods he will simply take the game away from the Sri Lankans.

As a result one has to fancy Pietersen to top score for England (3/1). If Pietersen doesn't get the job done the other obvious contender for this accolade is Eoin Morgan at 5/1. He may only come in at five, but the Middlesex man has accumulated 166 runs at an average of 33.20.

Morgan along with the South African trio of Craig Kieswetter, Michael Lumb and Pietersen have been responsible for a complete change in England's mindset when it comes to constructing a Twenty20 innings. Before England tried to keep wickets in hand by playing conservatively during the opening overs, but now they play like everyone else and try and score runs quickly from the first ball.

It is for this reason that they find themselves in the last four and have to be fancied to progress to the final.

It will not be straight forward though. Sri Lanka may have only scraped into the semi-finals as they defeated India on the last ball and then the West Indies' capitulation against Australia confirmed their place in the final four. However, they are talented outfit with dangerous players throughout the side.

The middle order displayed some explosive batting to see them home against India and this will be required once again against England. Sri Lanka's weakness has often been a relative long tail but their top five are a quality unit and they themselves have the ability to take the game away from England.

Therefore it will be imperative that England's attack is disciplined and that the spin duo of Grame Swann and Michael Yardy continue to mix it up and keep the batsmen on their toes.

Tim Bresnan will also have to continue his impressive spell with the new ball. The Yorkshireman has a phenomenal 5.85 economy rate but he has surprisingly only picked up two wickets in five matches.

It has been Swann, Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad who have been picking up the wickets with eight, seven and six respectively. Swann is the 3/1 favourite to claim the most wickets in the semi-final and this looks a good price, especially as he obliged on the same wicket on Monday versus New Zealand.

The whole England side will have to perform well for the Three Lions to reach Sunday's final and continue their bid to win their first ICC trophy, but if Pietersen performs as he has so far in the tournament then England should be unstoppable.



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