England are hoping their new, ‘reintegrated’ Kevin Pietersen will not change too much.
Alastair Cook’s team will be banking on the superstar batsman to be back with all his swagger and dominance when the Test series against India gets under way tomorrow.
Pietersen, of course, has had to convince England management and senior players of his goodwill to regain favour in time for this demanding challenge after his summer of discontent over contract wrangles, text messages and other vexations.
What England cannot afford, however, is for a humbled Pietersen to return with his talents diluted.
That certainly did not seem the case when the South Africa-born batsman warmed up for the first of four Tests with a power-packed century against Haryana last week.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior believes Pietersen is still the real deal: “We wouldn’t want KP to change too much, because it is how he is that makes him special as a player,” said Prior.
“If Kev suddenly came as this shy, introverted character I would be more worried. I want him to go out and express himself, as he does.”
Pietersen has an adoring public, as well as team-mates, to please here - thanks to his exploits in the Indian Premier League. The partisan crowds will be aghast if he helps England to an improbable series victory against their home-grown heroes, but they would doubtless like to see some fireworks from him too.
“You only have to walk around India and see these guys who have watched him play in the IPL ... they can’t wait to watch him bat - and we can’t either,” added Prior.
Under coach Andy Flower, new captain Cook and his predecessor Andrew Strauss, England have made team spirit perhaps their most valued virtue and Prior reports that Pietersen is very much a part of that.
Centuries from Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put the West Indies in charge on day one of the first Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka. Powell was out after tea for 117 with Chanderpaul unbeaten on 123 as the Windies recovered from losing three wickets in the morning session to close on 361 for four.