Flintoff lauds Pietersen

England captain Andrew Flintoff has praised teammate Kevin Pietersen after his 142 in the first innings helped England to a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka.

The South African born batsman claimed man-of-the-match honours ahead of Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who took ten wickets for the match, including all four in England's second innings.

Pietersen was the only batsman to make more than 30 in England's first innings, and their second innings chase of 78 may have been much greater if not for his efforts.

Flintoff said it rated just as highly as the century he scored at the oval last year to deny Australia a series-leveling draw in the fifth test of the Ashes.

"It's no secret that the difference was a fine innings by Kevin Pietersen," Flintoff told Reuters.

"To play the way he did against the likes of Murali was a fine effort.

"It is probably the second best hundred to his one at the Oval last year."

"I was sat there with my mouth wide open thinking how's he done that. He comes down the wicket and is flicking his wrist and scoring through the leg side."

Flintoff said while Pietersen was unorthodox, he nevertheless got the job done and believed he may one day be considered among the best batsmen of the game.

"The reverse sweep for six to Murali, he's got a technique and a method of his own which he trusts and I've not seen anything like it, to be honest," he said.

"He's one of the most talented players I've ever played with. Hopefully he can kick on and get better and better.

"I think he is someone really special and that's no secret. He's only played a handful of Test matches as well and I'm excited to play with Kevin over the next few years to see how his career unfolds.

"Hopefully by then people are talking about who will be the new Kevin Pietersen and think of him in the same regard as they do Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara."

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