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Pietersen praises Bells knock

Source - sportal.co.nz

Kevin Pietersen paid tribute to Ian Bell after the pair teamed up to guide England to a nine-wicket Twenty20 international victory over New Zealand at Old Trafford.

Bell struggled during the recent Test series but led from the front with 60 not out from 46 balls as England easily chased down the tourists' 123 for nine.

Pietersen, who joined Bell at 48 for one after Luke Wright's dismissal, praised Bell's innings.

"What a great knock, the shots he played. I think he should open the innings. He's a fantastic player who can hit boundaries," he told Sky Sport 1.

England were on top from the moment James Anderson grabbed the first wicket in only the second over, and Pietersen, who hit 42 not out, hailed its all-round showing.

"It was a fantastic performance, you can't ask for better. We hit our straps from ball one and it was a really classy performance," he said.

"The guys showed tonight, on our day it's pretty hard to beat this team. Everybody should be proud."

England also triumphed in the Twenty20 clashes in New Zealand over the winter before going on to lose the one-day series, but Pietersen does not expect a repeat.

"We've got to go and make sure we hit our straps from the first ball again and we're up for the fight. It breeds confidence a victory like tonight so let's hope (we can win)."

New Zealand suffered a blow in the warm-up when Jacob Oram picked up a hamstring injury and captain Daniel Vettori revealed he is unlikely to be fit for the first one-dayer on Sunday.

"I think he'll struggle to play that game," said Vettori.

"I think it's probably a week-long injury, maybe a bit longer."

New Zealand is also without Jesse Ryder, but Vettori refused to blame injury problems, instead admitting the Kiwis had been 'totally outplayed'.

"The wicket was a little bit tricky and we got off to tough start losing three early wickets," he said.

"It makes it hard for guys like Brendan McCullum to show his wares.

"When you post a score like that it's easy in the second innings and Bell and Pietersen played exceptionally well.

"If you turn up here and play decent cricket you can have a chance of winning the game."

Vettori, however, insisted New Zealand can perform well in the shortest form of the game.

"We made the semi-finals of the Twenty20 World Cup, we just haven't played well," he said.

"We've come close a few times but we were totally outplayed today."

Vettori's opposite number Paul Collingwood singled out England's opening bowlers Anderson and Stuart Broad for praise.

"Right from ball one, Jimmy and Broady were on it and the way the boys knocked the runs off was very clinical," said Collingwood.

"The boys were hitting the deck pretty hard. They just hit great areas. It was doing a little bit as well.

"Everybody wants to put their hands up. We're very versatile in our bowling unit, we've got cricketers who can go out and adapt to the conditions."

The captain, however, expects New Zealand to bounce back for the one-day series.

"We've put a great performance in but it means nothing for Sunday," he added.

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