Kevin Pietersen
“Chelsea is my team,” says Kevin Pietersen.IPL-BCCI

It did not take 14 smileys for Kevin Pietersen to explain his relationship with Delhi Daredevils' coach Gary Kirsten; all it took was a genuine smile and a few heartfelt words.

Pietersen has been in the news for all things other than cricket lately, and his finger injury has added to the increase in the off field news he has been making.

The 33-year-old has missed all three matches Delhi has played so far in IPL 7 but has been quite an influence on the team. 'Team engagement' has been the key word for Pietersen's career changing episodes so far, with the ECB announcing that the South Africa-born batsman was rather disengaged to be part of the English team's future.

Sitting in the dugout with countryman Kirsten, and having the experience of playing under several coaches, Pietersen hints that Kirsten is everything a coach needs to be.

"Gary is people's person," Pietersen told the official IPL site. "He's fantastic to be around. He's one of those guys with whom you want to hang around, he's infectious.

"He's got such a calming influence, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, you get the same positive vibes from him. I think that's really important for the players and especially for the youngsters. You don't want a coach who gets jittery and goes up, down and all over the place."

The major gain for Indian cricket from the IPL is not the money, revenue, glamour and fame that come along; it's the learning that young cricketers like Mayank Agarwal or Saurabh Tiwary will get from top quality players like Pietersen and JP Duminy.

"It's imperative for me to play a significant role as a senior figure in the dressing room," Pietersen, in whose absence Dinesh Karthik [the second most expensive player at the IPL 7 auction] has taken over the captaincy, said. "You need to reach out to the players and help them out.

"Yes, I have handed the reigns of the team to Karthik but I've also got to help him. We're all a part of the senior group in the squad and the onus is on us to look after each other. The young guys need guidance from us and we too need to know how they want to go about things."

Having won just one of the three matches played so far, Pietersen hopes Delhi will be in a better position, come the end of the first leg of the IPL in the UAE. And as for himself, he should be back in action when Delhi take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai on Friday.

"I'm going to hopefully be back in the next game after I train well for a week," the 33-year-old pointed out. "Yes, we didn't start the tournament as well as we wanted to but the IPL is a marathon, not a sprint. We do not need to worry about the first three-five games. As long as we get into a winning streak with game sixth-tenth, we're going to finish this tournament really well."

(Ed: VP)