Indian skipper MS Dhoni on Monday backed big-hitting batsman Kevin Pietersen for the upcoming Indian Premier League, saying he expects no discipline problems from the controversial ex-England captain.
New franchise the Rising Pune Supergiants bought Pietersen for $514,500 at a player auction for the next edition of the glitzy Twenty20 tournament starting in April.
Dhoni said his fellow teammate would be a great asset to the Supergiants who are making their debut at the IPL, replacing one of two teams barred over a corruption scandal that engulfed the tournament’s 2013 edition.
Pietersen has been banished from the England team since the Ashes tour disaster in 2014, over several discipline issues. In 2009 Pietersen was forced to resign as captain after a fallout with coach Peter Moores, who was later sacked.
“Again, you know people are often judged by what comes in the media, but when you actually meet them they are totally different. I don’t think there will be any issue with discipline,” Dhoni said at an IPL promotional event in Delhi.
“As I said, KP is a fantastic player, someone who is very aggressive and at the same time very expressive on the field. It is good to have him in the side,” he said.
The 35-year-old Pietersen has played in previous IPLs and has been in recent excellent form in South Africa’s Ram Slam competition and Australia’s Big Bash League.
Dhoni said younger players in the Pune team can learn from Pietersen’s experience that includes 104 Tests and 136 one-day internationals during his decade-long career.
Dhoni said he was also keen to reunite with former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming after he was hired by Pune as head coach.