London: Kevin Pietersen roared back into form with an imperious unbeaten 202 as England took control of the first cricket Test against India at the Lord’s here on Friday.
The 31-year old Pietersen, who has been struggling for runs in recent times notched up his 18th Test century and the third double ton before the hosts declared their first innings at 474 for eight. India were 17 for no loss in the remaining six overs at stumps, still trailing by 457 runs on an eventful second day.
Pietersen held the England innings together blending caution with aggression as he shared three valuable partnerships with Jonathan Trott (70) Matt Prior (71), Ian Bell (45) who were the other notable contributors.
Praveen Kumar was the pick of the Indian bowlers with a career best figures of five for 106 but the visitors were severely handicapped by the absence of pace spearhead Zaheer Khan who did not take then field due to strained hamstring. With Harbhajan Singh (0/152) rendered ineffective and Ishant Sharma (0/128) proving to be a big disappointmen, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni surprised one and all by taking it upon himself to bowl his gentle seam-up stuff.
He bowled eight wicketless overs but was the only batsman who seemed to have caused any sort of trouble for Pietersen as he nearly got him caught behind. Pietersen went for a review and was adjudged not out.
Pietersen’s innings can be dissected into two parts. Till he scored 150, he was cautious as it took him 301 balls. However he blazed his way from 150 to double hundred in only 25 balls which helped Strauss to have a go at Indian batsmen.
Pietersen was magnificent and provided everything a batsman can aspire for during an innings—he was patient yesterday when Indian seamers were making the ball talk; focused while wickets fell from the other end and explosive when he was left with only tail to provide the final thrust to England’s charge.
If Pietersen’s first hundred took him 299 minutes and 216 balls, inclusive of 10 fours, his second century arrived from 110 further balls in 194 minutes and contained another 11 fours besides a six. He brought the innings to a thrilling close by smashing 4, 6, 2 and 4 off Suresh Raina.
Earlier, Pietersen had a close call on 49 when he clipped Praveen down the legside uppishly and Rahul Dravid, posted specifically for the moment, caught it on half volley.
The third umpire’s intervention was called in which ruled in the favour of batsman, England being 173 for 3 at that stage.
Credit should go to Praveen as he manfully shouldered the burden of Indian attack without any support from other bowlers.
His figures for today were 23-5-60-5 which spoke volumes about the effort he put in. (PTI)