LONDON, (Reuters) – Kevin Pietersen struck the India bowlers to all parts of Lord’s today during a majestic unbeaten innings of 202 on a sun-dappled second day of the first test.
Pietersen unfurled a series of glorious drives at the spiritual home of world cricket before an appreciative capacity crowd attending the 2,000th test match and the 100th between the two countries.
He smacked 21 boundaries and a six in more than eight hours at the crease to complete his third test double century and take England to 474 for eight declared.
India survived the final half hour to reach 17 for no wicket at the close and set the stage for Saturday’s showpiece day and Sachin Tendulkar, who needs one more century to become the first man to complete 100 international hundreds.
“The wicket is still offering plenty for seamers,” Pietersen told a news conference. “It would be interesting if India had batted yesterday. To be put in and get 474, we in a pretty good position.”
India, reduced to three specialist bowlers in the absence of Zaheer Khan who was off the field all day due to a hamstring strain, had their own hero in the lion-hearted Praveen Kumar who took five for 106 from 40.3 overs.
Moving the ball disconcertingly through the air at times at no more than medium pace with a low-slung action from an economical run-up, Kumar deservedly won a place on the Lord’s honours board in only his fourth test.
His performance was all the more creditable as conditions were in favour of the batsmen with the sun shining, the pitch full of runs and little in the way of support.
Kumar said he had not been daunted by the number of overs he had been asked to bowl.
“I have been bowling 32 to 35 overs in domestic cricket,” he said. “After the fourth wicket I was very confident that I would get the fifth. The wicket still had something to offer.”
To underline India’s problems, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni twice handed the wicketkeeper’s pads and gloves to Rahul Dravid in order to bowl his medium pace in two spells of five and three overs respectively.
After batting with stern self-denial in demanding conditions on Thursday’s rain-shortened day, Pietersen flourished on a sunny morning with two glorious on-driven fours in the opening overs.
He survived the loss of Jonathan Trott, lbw to Kumar for 70, and a confident appeal from the Indians when Dravid dived forward from leg-gully to gather the ball off the same bowler when he was one short of a third consecutive test half-century.
Pietersen was reprieved when television replays failed to prove conclusively that Dravid had gathered the ball cleanly and on 73 he successfully appealed to the television umpire after umpire Billy Bowden had given him out caught behind by Dravid from the third ball of Dhoni’s second over.
The runs continued to flow and after batting for a minute short of five hours, Pietersen reached his century with another emphatic on-drive for four off Ishant Sharma, his 10th of the innings.
Ian Bell (45) kept him company in a fourth-wicket partnership of 110 before he fell to Kumar caught behind by Dhoni diving to his right. Eoin Morgan succumbed three balls later for a duck to the same combination pushing tentatively forward.
At 270 for five, India were back in the game but their lack of bowling resources were exposed when Pietersen and Matt Prior (71 from 93 balls) plundered 120 from 167 balls.
Prior’s enterprising innings ended when he was caught behind off Kumar, who dismissed Stuart Broad lbw with his next delivery.
Pietersen reached his 150 with a boundary to mid-wicket and struck the next delivery over mid-off for another four. Graeme Swann kept him company before he was bowled by Suresh Raina’s part-time off-spin for 24.
With only the tail remaining, Pietersen hit Raina for a four followed by the first six of the match and then cracked another boundary to reach his 200 at which stage Andrew Strauss declared. His final 50 runs had taken only 25 balls.