LONDON: Kevin Pietersen’s commanding unbeaten double century left England well on top against India at the close of the second day of the first Test at Lord’s on Friday. India, at stumps, were 17 without loss in reply to England’s 474 for eight declared built around Pietersen’s 202 not out — his second double century in seven Tests following his 227 against Australia in Adelaide in December and the third of his 75-match career.
Pietersen, watchful early on but upping the tempo so his final fifty took just 25 balls, batted for eight-and-a-quarter hours in total. He faced 326 balls and hit a six and 21 fours. As soon as Pietersen reached his double ton, England captain Andrew Strauss, criticised for being “defensive” by former skipper Michael Vaughan, made an attacking declaration in what was the 2,000th Test and the 100th between the two sides. However, Abhinav Mukund (eight not out), playing instead of the injured Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (seven not out) survived until stumps.
It was tough going for India, who were without attack leader Zaheer Khan all day because of the hamstring strain that had forced him off the field on Thursday and who only had four frontline bowlers to start with. But persevering seamer Praveen Kumar, swinging the ball of a good length, responded with a Test-best return of five for 106 in 40.3 overs. England, who will replace India at the top of the Test rankings if they win this four-match series by two Tests, resumed Friday on 127 for two after Zaheer had removed openers Alastair Cook and Strauss before breaking down. Jonathan Trott was 58 not out and Pietersen 22 not out. But Kumar was rewarded for his accuracy when Trott, aiming across the line, was lbw for 70.
Pietersen, on 49, almost fell into a well-set trap when he glanced Kumar towards Rahul Dravid in the rarely used position of leg-slip. But Pietersen stood his ground and, after the umpires consulted replays which proved inconclusive, he was reprieved. England started the second session on 217 for three, with Pietersen 71 not out and Ian Bell 28 not out. There was a surprise as India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni emerged having handed the wicket keeping duties to Dravid, who used to be behind the stumps in one-day internationals. Dhoni took the ball to bowl his medium pacers and thought he had Pietersen ‘caught’ by Dravid for 73. Billy Bowden gave Pietersen out but the batsman called for a review, and with Hot Spot showing no edge, the New Zealand umpire reversed his verdict.
India took the new ball but it made little difference to the 31-year-old Pietersen as he completed a 216-ball Test hundred, his fourth against India and fifth at Lord’s, when he on-drove Ishant Sharma in style for his 10th boundary. But Kumar got Bell for 45 with a beauty that nipped off the seam to take the edge, Dhoni’s low diving catch completing the dismissal. That ended a stand of 110 and 270 for four became 270 for five when the same combination dismissed Eoin Morgan for a duck. Matt Prior added impetus with a brisk 71 off just 93 balls before he was caught behind off Kumar to end a partnership of 120 with Pietersen. Kumar, who took three for 38 on debut against the West Indies in Kingston last month, now had his Test-best figures. And next ball the 24-year-old Kumar, playing only his fourth Test, had Stuart Broad lbw for a golden duck before Graeme Swann avoided the hat-trick. – Dailytimes