England consolidate with Pietersen double century (Roundup)

July 23rd, 2011 - 2:00 am ICT by IANS  

Gautam Gambhir London, July 23 (IANS) Kevin Pietersen cracked a double century as England scored 474/8 in their first innings to pile pressure on India on the second day of the first cricket Test at Lord’s here Friday.

England tested Indian openers Gautam Gambhir and Abhinav Mukund for six overs before stumps were called. Gambhir (7) and Mukund (8) made a positive start and took India to 17/0.

It was an excellent performance from Praveen Kumar (5-106), who stood up to the challenge with India reduced to three bowlers after pace spearhead Zaheer Khan missed the day because of a hamstring strain he suffered Thursday.

Praveen kept coming back at England batsmen, swinging the ball throughout the day. He took two quick wickets in one over after lunch to reduce England to 305/5 at tea before Pietersen (200 not out, 326b, 21×4, 1×6) exploded in the last session of the day when hit 44 runs off 17 balls to complete his double century.

It was quite a contrast from his uncharacteristic patient batting in the first two sessions when he guided England toward a big score.

The Indian attack looked a bit lacklustre in absence of Zaheer. The other Indian bowlers, barring Praveen, failed to make much of an impact with Ishant Sharma especially meted out a harsh treatment by Pietersen.

It was Pietersen’s slowest among 18 centuries that came in 216 balls with the help of 10 fours. Having done the spade work, Pietersen accelerated when England needed some quick runs. He and Matt Prior (71) added 120 runs for the sixth wicket.

The star English player reached his century 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 (45) 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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