Comment: Not quite to the script
Monday 11 August 2008
Even the script writers get it wrong occasionally. The plan had clearly been to have their man Kevin Pietersen in the thick of things at the moment of victory – in his maiden Test in charge.
They were obviously not content with Pietersen becoming only the fourth England captain to score a hundred in his first match as captain.
But of course to do so it needed high drama in the chase for the 197 needed for victory. To that end some nail-biting tension had to be written in to it, courtesy of a mini collapse. Then hero enters stage right, and after the wobbles, helped by the faithful Colly (Paul Collingwood) leads his men to glory.
It all seemed to be going swimmingly as well. The England openers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss were permitted to put on 123, for the first wicket by the script-writers, it was their third century opening stand together. Then the drama and dismissals.
Cook was the first to go driving loosely at a ball from Makhaya Ntini just after lunch and perishing at slip. He had made 67 – his 14th half century in tests and his tenth score in the 60s.
He has now played 31 innings without getting into three figures, although his average during that run is still 37, while his overall career average in tests is a more satisfactory 42.
Strauss also reached fifty, but having watched new man Ian Bell get bowled around his legs by Ntini, the Middlesex batsman then followed him in to the England dressing after being caught at leg slip pushing at off-spinner Paul Harris.
England had the wobbles, so it was all perfectly set for Captain Marvel to strut his stuff. It almost came off. England were 15 runs from victory when Pietersen got an inside edge and was taken at short leg off Harris.
Thankfully Colly did not get the wobbles and he guided England to a victory that was anything but hollow.
The series may have been lost 2-0 coming in to this match, but it was a winning start for Pietersen. A winning start to a new era.
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