CHENNAI, March 7- England batsman Kevin Pietersen will miss the rest of the World Cup, with a team spokesman announcing Monday he would be returning home in the next 24 hours for a hernia operation.
England have applied to the International Cricket Council (ICC) for Eoin Morgan to come in as a replacement player, the spokesman said.
Pietersen, moved up the order to open during the World Cup, made a duck during England’s dramatic Group B win over his native South Africa on Sunday, and it is now 27 one-day internationals since his last century.
Team officials said Saturday that Pietersen would undergo an operation, but after the tournament, although he did say the injury would "no doubt impact my preparation" during the World Cup.
However, the procedure appears to have been brought forward after he was clearly troubled during Sunday’s six-run win at the Chidambaram Stadium and looked more of a threat with his part-time off-spin than with the bat.
Pietersen’s injury was diagnosed following England’s 6-1 one-day series loss in Australia which came after the Test side’s Ashes series triumph.
The batsman’s early departure from the World Cup raises questions over his future in the 50-over form of the game, with Pietersen having frequently complained about a crammed international schedule.
Advancing the surgery might enable Pietersen to appear in this year’s Indian Premier League. His original plan for a six-week course of treatment after the World Cup coincided with the lucrative event, which starts next month.
Pietersen is due to earn around $650,000 (400,000 pounds) playing for IPL side the Deccan Chargers this season.
However, England would like their star batsman to be well-rested ahead of a busy home season of international cricket, featuring series against Sri Lanka and India.
The first Test against Sri Lanka starts in Cardiff on May 26.
Former Ireland batsman Morgan would have been in England’s original squad but for a finger injury. His replacement, Ravi Bopara, made a man-of-the-match winning 60 against South Africa in Chennai on Sunday.
However, both Morgan and Bopara are middle-order batsmen which leaves England needing to find a new opening partner for captain Andrew Strauss.
Either Jonathan Trott or Ian Bell could now be promoted up the order.
England’s victory over previously unbeaten group leaders South Africa revived a faltering World Cup campaign which has featured a stuttering win over the Netherlands, a tie with co-hosts India and a shock defeat by Ireland.
Their bid for a quarter-final spot continues with a group match against co-hosts Bangladesh in Chittagong on Friday.