Delhi retain Pietersen - reports

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Kevin Pietersen is set to feature in this year's IPL Kevin Pietersen is set to feature in this year's IPL

Kevin Pietersen has been retained as a Delhi Daredevils player, according to reports.

The 33-year-old had always been expected to be on the Indian Premier League side's retained list, but if the stories are proved to be correct, it means the batsman's England future will remain a point of debate for some time to come.

IPL franchises had to confirm their lists of retained players by Friday and with all reports suggesting the South Africa-born Pietersen is remaining with Delhi, further questions will be provoked regarding what he and England team director Andy Flower will do next.

Reports this week suggested Flower wanted to call time on the 33-year-old's international days, with the suggestion in some quarters that the Zimbabwean had delivered a 'him or me' ultimatum in the wake of the 5-0 Ashes whitewash.

Flower responded quickly to dismiss those claims as "totally inaccurate" and called for a "calm and logical" assessment in the wake of the Ashes debacle before verdicts were reached on any player.

Conspicuous by its absence in the carefully-worded statement was any kind of public support - or even mention - of Pietersen.

If Pietersen is still a part of Flower's plan then a decision to skip at least part of the IPL, and its riches, would be an obvious way for him to prove his England commitment and prepare for the domestic summer.

Pietersen has twice this week taken to Twitter to voice his "strong desire" to remain an England player and now seems to have the chance to prove that.

At present the agreed cut-off date for players to return is May 13, which would give them seven days to prepare in home conditions for the one-day international series against Sri Lanka.

But after the fall-out of the Ashes - and Flower's desire to begin a "new era" - there is reason to suggest those England players who do go to the IPL might benefit from returning earlier to play in the LV= County Championship, which begins on April 6.

James Anderson, Stuart Broad and rising star Ben Stokes are thought to be receptive to the idea of returning early to county cricket, while Jos Buttler is another with Test ambitions who could be snapped up in next month's IPL auction.

Pietersen is, however, both a bigger draw and a bigger advocate of the IPL than his colleagues.

He has spoken passionately about the sporting benefits and is immensely popular in India, making it highly unlikely he would miss it in favour of some early-season four-day outings with Surrey.

David Warner, one of Pietersen's Ashes adversaries, was also retained by the club, according to NDTV.

Virender Sehwag, the Indian broadcaster said, was to be put up for auction for the first time in six years.

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