x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

First Ashes Test for England on Kevin Pietersen's agenda

England batsman back from knee injury and will get his chance to impress selectors at second T20 with New Zealand.

After three months away, England’s Kevin Pietersen had a net session at The Oval on Wednesday and hit one out of the stadium. Clint Hughes / Getty Images
After three months away, England’s Kevin Pietersen had a net session at The Oval on Wednesday and hit one out of the stadium. Clint Hughes / Getty Images

Kevin Pietersen will make a timely return to the England set-up ahead of next month's first Ashes Test after he enjoyed a productive net session on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's second Twenty20 international against New Zealand.

Pietersen ended his three months away from the team, due to a knee injury, with an individual 20-minute net session at The Oval.

Overseen by spin bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, Pietersen prepared himself for the match against New Zealand, who lead the series 1-0 following Monday's five-run victory at The Oval, against a pool of net bowlers.

The 32-year-old batsman showed no obvious sign of discomfort as he was put through his paces, and at one point hit one of the bowlers out of the stadium.

Immediately after returning to the dressing room Pietersen posted a picture of himself in his England training kit on Twitter, which read: "Back with ENG!"

Pietersen will get his only opportunity to impress against international opposition tonight before the Ashes begins against Australia at Trent Bridge on July 10. The right-hander has also been included for England's Ashes warm-up match against Essex which starts on Sunday.

New Zealand are unlikely to risk injured Martin Guptill after the opening batsman missed the Black Caps' win on Monday with a hamstring problem.

"We need to assess Martin, he wasn't great today," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said Wednesday. "The risk reward to roll him out for last game - we need to be wary of that."

Guptill hit back-to-back centuries to lead New Zealand to a 2-1 one-day international series success over England earlier this month.

His absence leaves New Zealand with a hole to fill at the top of the order, with replacement James Franklin falling for a first-ball duck in Monday's victory.

Despite that McCullum hinted Franklin could be relied upon again to open with Hamish Rutherford, who was named man of the match after he gave the tourists a flying start with 62 off 35 balls.

"If Martin is out we will have to look at that opening spot," McCullum said. "I think James has done all right when he has opened for us. He got out first ball – that can happen."

McCullum joined Rutherford in a quick-fire 114-run stand to set the basis for victory and, while the captain is the top-ranked T20 batsman in the world, he said it was him who had been led by his young partner's belligerence.

"At the start didn't feel like a 200-run wicket," McCullum said. "Then Hamish played a few shots and that [confidence] permeated through the order.

"The way he payed showed us that going for your shots was the right way to go about it on that wicket."

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