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|NatWest T20 Blast|
|Dates: 7 July-2 September|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball local radio commentary on every match online, tablets, mobiles and BBC Sport app. In-play highlights and live text commentary of selected games on the BBC Sport website. Selected commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.|
Kevin Pietersen marked his return to English cricket by hitting 52 as Surrey beat Essex by 10 runs in the T20 Blast.
The 37-year-old former England batsman smashed five sixes, including four in one Simon Harmer over, in his 35-ball knock as he played his first game for Surrey in more than two years.
His effort helped Surrey to 150-9, although he was unable to field after picking up a calf strain while batting.
Essex struggled for momentum in their reply and fell short on 140-7.
Pietersen came to the crease when England one-day batsman Jason Roy was out for 17 when he trod on his stumps facing Essex’s Mohammad Amir, with the Pakistan international left-arm paceman then having Aaron Finch caught behind on his way to 2-13 from his four overs.
Surrey’s other star batsman Kumar Sangakkara then fell cheaply, leaving Pietersen to take centre stage as the rest of the batting line-up struggled.
However, Essex’s batsmen found it no easier after Dan Lawrence (24) and Varun Chopra (28) got them off to a good start. Gareth Batty, Tom Curran and Stuart Meaker all took two wickets to restrict the visitors.
‘I just love batting’
Pietersen, who will be available to Surrey for the rest of the competition, injury permitting, was delighted to make an impact in his first game back.
“I absolutely loved it,” he told BBC Radio London. “It’s been a date I’ve looked forward to since I signed the contract and to get the victory for the boys is magnificent.
“The calf is a little bit sore but I know my body, I’m 37 – if I’d have started sprinting around in that second innings I could have done a lot of damage.
“It’s just nice to be batting. Getting out there and manipulating the field, picking length – that’s the sort of stuff that really excites me. The sixes are a by-product of the art of batting and I love batting.
“The talent in that dressing room is insane. It inspires me to do the right stuff to make sure I’m on my game because these boys are hot.”
Derbyshire cruise to win over Worcestershire
Elsewhere, Derbyshire moved up to second in the North Group with a comfortable seven-wicket win over Worcestershire at New Road.
Joe Clarke top-scored for the hosts with 42 off 18 balls as they made 186-5 from their 20 overs, helped by some lusty late hitting from John Hastings who smashed a four and two sixes off the final three balls of the innings, and the only three he faced.
Billy Godleman scored 70 off 42 balls to get Derbyshire’s reply off to a good start before they were steered home by Wayne Madsen, who followed up his 2-20 with his off-spin by making an unbeaten 58 as the visitors eased to victory with 10 balls to spare.
Is there a stronger batting line-up on paper in the T20 Blast than Surrey’s?
London News & Search