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England v NZ 2nd Twenty20

Kevin Pietersen’s back! That’s the big news for England as the home side bid to square the two-game Twenty20 series against New Zealand at the Oval tonight.

We all know what this man can do when firing on all cylinders and his return following a knee injury sustained in March is definitely good news for England and bad news for Australia ahead of the upcoming Ashes.

That’s the serious stuff, but in the meantime England will need his help in this 20-over bash after just losing out in Tuesday night’s thriller – Coral go 8/13 an England win this time, 5/4 New Zealand.

Coral also rate Pietersen a 7/2 chance to top score for England and we can be sure that this brilliant, if controversial, cricketer will be eager to remind us all what we have been missing.

But that’s also the price Luke Wright, Alex Hales and Michael Lumb in a top-order not short of ability and aggression. Indeed, with Eoin Morgan (5/1), Ravi Bopara (7/1) and Jos Buttler (8/1) all capable of turning on the afterburners later in the innings, England can boast one of the best short-form batting line-ups in world cricket.

They proved that in the first of these Twenty20s, when almost chasing down 202, a record target. Lumb, Hales and Wright got them off to a flyer and it looked as though Bopara and Buttler would finish the job off but, as in the ICC Championship Trophy Final against India last weekend, they came up just short.

It is the bowling department that is much more of a concern for England. Jade Dernbach is much more effective in the 20-over format than he is in the 50-over game and Boyd Rankin did okay on his debut. But Bopara and James Tredwell, usually ‘Steady Eddies’, were knocked around the park for 16 runs an over apiece and the struggling Chris Woakes was dispatched for 19 off his six balls.

It would certainly help England’s cause if their bowlers could contain the likes of Hamish Rutherford (62 runs from 35 balls), Brendon McCullum (68 from 48) and Ross Taylor (32 from 19) better than they did in the first match, but New Zealand’s attacking unit won’t be relishing their job, either, especially if Pietersen gets his eye in.

Coral are going evens New Zealand striking the most sixes, 11/10 England, 11/2 the tie and this is likely to be tight again after the Kiwis shaded it 8-7 in the opener. Every batsmen on both sides who ‘got in’ managed at least one maximum, Rutherford leading the way with four. Again, it might be Pietersen’s return that swings it for England.

Written by Jon Freeman