'It all depends on how we play the new ball'

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"It's pretty even at the moment," said the Hampshire batsman, "and England have done pretty well in the last couple of years chasing in the fourth innings, so tomorrow could be a positive day. It will all depend on how we play the new ball, how we play Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee.

"They are only 314 ahead and we are in a good position to go on and win this game and change history. If we knock them over by lunchtime tomorrow we will then have two-and-a-half days left in this game so any total we can hopefully get."

Unluckily for Pietersen his morning heroics with the bat were somewhat marred by a crucial dropped catch, when Michael Clarke was on 21.

The Australian went on to add 70 runs. But Pietersen was still upbeat about his performance.

As for his maiden fifty, Pietersen said: "I was out this week to really enjoy the moment. And I enjoyed my innings, especially yesterday when I had to be disciplined for two hours, but it was also fun this morning being able to smack a few."

Some of his derring-do rubbed off on the tail-enders Steve Harmison and Simon Jones who edged, nudged and fudged more than 50 precious runs for the last two wickets.

And while Lord's was awash with the metaphorical tears of the England supporters once Pietersen departed, it was truly under water earlier in the day.

Cleaners entering the recently refurbished Pavilion before dawn found the Old Library awash with water. Apparently a pipe in the kitchens which serve the committee and players' dining rooms two floors above had burst shortly before the cleaners arrived, at around 3.30am, and hundreds of gallons cascaded through the floors bringing two new chandeliers crashing down on to an equally new table in the Old Library.

The cost of the damage has yet to be worked out, but early estimates put it well into four figures, if not even five. It is rough luck on MCC, whose £8.2m outlay on the refurbishment last winter has been widely praised.

Miraculously the cleaners were able to complete the mopping-up operation between the discovery of the flood and 8.30am when the members who had been queuing (probably before the flood), were let into the ground. It just needs something close to a miracle on the field of play to wrap up the perfect Test debut for Pietersen.