Hope mine is a match-winning ton: Pietersen
Mumbai, Nov 25: Besides playing Monty Panesar in the second Test, the best decision that England have taken on their current tour to India is including Kevin Pietersen in the squad. After all the drama that unfolded around him, Pietersen is back, and how.
On a Wankhede track where most batsmen from either side were troubled by the spinners, Pietersen batted as though batting on a wicket he’d carried with him in his pocket. And it resulted in him scoring his 22nd Test century, hence joining Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycitt and Wally Hammond as England’s top century makers. Alastair Cook got to the landmark just minutes before Pietersen did.
“Getting hundreds for England [is special],” Pietersen said after scoring a magnificent 186 on Day 3 of the Test. “Getting to No.22, which nobody has gone past before, with Cookie [made it even more memorable]. When he had five runs to go, he said to me, ‘you are there as well’. It was special moment. Chef (Cook) was magnificent and it is good to be on top of the list with Chef,” he said.
Pietersen was touted to be a key player for England in India, in the conditions that he knows better than any of his teammates, owing to his association with the IPL. His failure in both innings of the first Test let to more pressure on him from the outside. He coming into the Mumbai Test better prepared.
“I wasn't playing well at all in Ahmedabad,” he said. “I didn't trust my defence as much as I have in this innings. As a batter, if you don't trust your defence as much, you try too many things. You try and force the issue. So I went and did a lot of hard work as I always do and luckily it paid off.”
His 186 runs came off just 233 balls. While Cook was binding his time, Pietersen dominated the attack. Cook resisted and Pietersen flailed the spinners. He milked R Ashwin for 52 runs in 46 balls and plonked Pragyan Ojha for three sixes, two of them slogged swept to the fence.
Like many overseas batsmen who have done well in India, Pietersen utilised the sweep shot to brilliant effect against the spinners. He said besides getting runs, the shot also puts the opposition in disarray and upsets their plans.
“I think some of the batsmen who have come to India and been successful have been very good sweepers. Our coach [Andy Flower], Matthew Hayden – these are some players who have used that shot well to succeed in India.
“That shot messes around with the length that spinners bowl and the fields that they set. It sort of negates that little leg gully that can cause little issues if spinners bowl straight to you. As long as you play well and pick the right ball it is good. If you play it sixth or seventh ball like I did in Ahmedabad, you look like a clown,” Pietersen said.
Pietersen’s knock was easily one of the best played by an overseas batsman in a Test in India. And it is likely to get even more memorable as England stand on the cusp of a famous win. India are reeling at 117/7 at the end of the third day, with a paltry lead of 31 runs. Before rating the innings among his best, Pietersen wants to wait for till the result of the match.
“It would mean a lot more if we win tomorrow. It was a pretty difficult wicket. You knew at some stage, a ball will get your name on it. To get some runs was satisfying,” he said.