Kevin Pietersen makes fine Big Bash start

Kevin Pietersen of the Melbourne Stars bats during the Big Bash League match between his side and Adelaide Strikers. Picture: Getty

Kevin Pietersen of the Melbourne Stars bats during the Big Bash League match between his side and Adelaide Strikers. Picture: Getty

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KEVIN Pietersen top-scored with 66 for Melbourne Stars in the opening match of the Big Bash League.

The controversial England exile had a best of 39 in 12 matches for Surrey in last year’s NatWest T20 Blast, but rediscovered his form against Adelaide Strikers, hitting four sixes and two fours in his 44-ball stay.

Another out-of-favour Englishman, Luke Wright, was the only other player to reach ­double figures in the Stars’ 148 for seven, the Sussex all-rounder hitting 45 in 37 deliveries.

Pietersen hooked his second ball for six and added two more maximums from successive ­deliveries immediately after the bowler, Kieron Pollard, aborted his run-up in response to an ­attempted switch-hit.

A single took him to his half-century in 38 balls and he added one more six off Laughlin before lobbing Kane Richardson to mid-wicket in the final over of the innings.

Wright, who has excelled in the BBL before, shared a stand of 57 with Pietersen and scored seven boundaries of his own.

Pietersen and Wright ended up on the losing side, though, with their efforts at the crease put firmly in the shade by ­Adelaide opener Tim Ludeman.

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He cracked 92 not out in just 44 balls, including a tournament record 18-ball fifty, as the hosts easily reeled in the target with a massive 45 balls to spare.

In South Africa, home captain Hashim Amla and debutant Stiaan van Zyl piled on the pain for West Indies as the hosts moved into an even more commanding position on day two of the opening Test at Centurion.

Resuming the day on 340 for three, the Proteas moved on to 552 for five before a declaration arrived at the same time as rain.

Amla was out for 208 at that point – becoming the third South African batsman to make three or more double Test ­hundreds – while Van Zyl was unbeaten on 101.

He offered a sharp chance to slip when on two – but other than that gave little away and became the fifth South African to make three figures on his Test debut.

West Indies’ dire mood was deepened as strike bowler Kemar Roach pulled up during his run-up and his participation in the rest of the series, let alone this Test, could now be in doubt.

It was a blow the Windies could have done without as their struggles continue in the wake of their aborted tour of India. The weather at least saved them here, with South Africa having surely fancied a bowl at them in the final session under cloudy skies. Even so, a deficit of 552 with three full days ahead looks daunting.

Van Zyl came to the crease after overnight centurion AB de Villiers perished. He added 11 to his overnight 141 before falling to the overworked Sulieman Benn. The spinner toiled through 46 overs, returning figures of two for 148.

Amla – previously dropped on 180 – was his other victim, guilty only of taking one big hit too many and getting caught in the deep, going for a knock of 208 from 371 balls, scoring 22 fours along the way.

l Stephen Mangongo has been relieved of his duties as Zimbabwe head coach, Zimbabwe Cricket has announced.

His dismissal comes just eight weeks before the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and ZC chairman Wilson Manase said a replacement would be appointed after Christmas.

Mangongo will to work with ZC as part of the under-19 set-up and Manase ­revealed there will also be a new, larger selection panel. “The ZC Board has decided to relieve S [Stephen] Mangongo of his ­duties as head coach with immediate effect,” read a Tweet quoting Manase.

“Mr Mangongo will be redeployed to the U19 set up as we believe he is good at identifying talent. ZC is in the process of finding a replacement coach, an announcement will be made after Christmas after interviews.

“Givemore Makoni will ­remain as convenor of selectors, but will have a wider panel to ­select with. The selection panel will include D [Douglas] Hondo as assistant/bowling coach, B [Babu] Meman, the coach, and the captain.”

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