Pietersen cracks century before Praveen strikes back (Tea report)

July 22nd, 2011 - 10:50 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 22 (IANS) Kevin Pietersen hit a gritty unbeaten 115 before Praveen Kumar took two quick wickets to reduce England to 305/5 at tea on the second day of the first cricket Test against India here Friday.

It was Pietersen’s slowest among his 18 centuries even though he made the most of a fragile Indian attack, taking them mostly on the front foot.

India is playing with a bowler short in absence of pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who has been diagnosed with a hamstring strain. The other Indian bowlers, barring Praveen (3-85), who took two wickets in an over after lunch, failed to make an impact with Ishant Sharma especially meted out a harsh treatment by Pietersen.

The star English player reached his century (216 balls, 10×4) by hitting an over-pitched ball from Ishant for a four.

So depleted looked the Indian attack, that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had to hand over his gloves to Rahul Dravid in the first over after lunch and fill in the space of a medium pacer. He impressed with his very first ball and held out a close lbw appeal against Pietersen.

He again closed in on Pietersen in his next over when the Englishman edged a catch to Dravid and umpire Billy Bowden gave his approval. However, Pietersen went for a referral and the decision was overturned after the hotspot technology failed to establish whether the ball had edged the bat.

Pietersen only grew better from there and with Ian Bell put on 110 runs for the fourth wicket.

It was here that Praveen struck with a crafty seaming delivery forcing Bell to play from the crease and edge behind to Dhoni, who dived on his right to take a low catch.

Two balls later, Praveen got an inside edge of a tentative Eoin Morgan and Dhoni was quick to gobble the catch.

Earlier, England ambled to 217/3 at lunch, losing Jonathan Trott (70) to Praveen before Pietersen and Ian Bell took charge.

Pietersen was lucky to escape when Rahul Dravid, for the third time in two days, failed to hold onto a low catch at leg slip off Praveen. It was smart move by Dhoni to place a leg slip for Pietersen, who made most of his runs on leg side moving across to the stumps.

In the absence of Zaheer, Praveen bowled his heart out with longer spells but did not get much help from the other end.

Trott, after adding 12 runs to his overnight score, fell to Kumar’s swinging delivery.

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