Kevin Pietersen makes early exit on return to England action

 

Kevin Pietersen provided the brief panache, and Alastair Cook the necessary substance, in their opening gambits on England's tour of India.

For Pietersen, returning after his summer of discontent and successful 'reintegration' with vexed management and team-mates, a flighty 23 - complete with eerily appropriate dismissal to old adversary Yuvraj Singh - was notable.

For Cook, embarking on his first Test tour as permanent captain, it was fitting as well as valuable that he should contribute a trademark 207-ball century to underpin England's 286 for four in reply to India A's 369 all out on day two of three at the Brabourne Stadium.

Cook (112no) brought his famed powers of concentration and discipline to bear as he first shared an important second-wicket stand of 95 with Jonathan Trott (56) and then an unbroken one of 153 with Samit Patel (82no).

The only blemish was an escape on 87 when he edged an attempted cut at Yuvraj and was dropped by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.

Yet the only memorable frill from the stoic opener came in the 90s when he leaned on an expertly-placed on-drive off Yuvraj for his 12th boundary - before completing his hundred off Suresh Raina with familiar understatement via a single to mid-off.

Pietersen was in and out, by comparison, in the blink of an eye.

But it was hard to risk blinking while he was there, and inevitably his fretful stay will overshadow for many the labours of Cook or the significance of Patel's case for Test inclusion as a batting all-rounder.

Pietersen, batting for his adopted country for the first time since he was dropped for the Lord's Test, hit a six over long-off and three fours in a near run-a-ball innings.

India A captain Raina was the man hit for six, and duly replaced himself with Yuvraj - infamously dubbed a "pie-chucker" by Pietersen on England's last Test trip here four years ago.

Pietersen responded by trying to assert himself against the all-rounder, who has become one of his favoured Twitter sparring partners.

But slow left-armer Yuvraj, continuing his comeback in the world game after recovering from lung cancer, had the last laugh on Pietersen this time when he moved smartly to his left to take a return catch.

Yuvraj was all smiles again soon afterwards when Ian Bell edged him to slip, leaving Cook and Patel with much work to do.

England had lost their first wicket with just two runs on the board when Nick Compton endured a false start to his prospective international career with a third-ball duck.

Twenty-nine-year-old Compton, grandson of the great Denis, is being pencilled in by many as likely replacement for the retired Andrew Strauss as Cook's opening partner on this tour.

But he will first need a substantial innings or two under his belt before the opening Test in Ahmedabad on November 15 - and today, he got no such thing.

Compton left his first two deliveries from Ashok Dinda, the second precariously close to off-stump, and was persuaded to push defensively forward at the third only to edge new-ball swing behind.

Cook and Trott were then in no particular hurry as they sought to avoid any more early dramas.

Trott completed his 50 with a cut for his ninth four from the seam bowling of Parvinder Awana in early afternoon.

Soon afterwards, though, he uncharacteristically lost concentration - going back rather than forward to a Raina off-break, to be bowled and set the stage for the Pietersen show.

James Anderson had earlier done his best to hasten that moment too, giving England the perfect start when he had R Vinay Kumar lbw with an inswinger first ball to end the home innings without addition.

Also among the non-Pietersen footnotes was Patel, although his 92-ball 50 - just one slip along the way, when he was dropped by Saha down the leg-side off Awana on 29 - is deserving of more prominent billing, in content and context for a cricketer who may be no bit-part player over the next two months.

:: England this morning confirmed that fast bowler Steven Finn will play no further part in this first tour match because of the thigh strain he suffered while bowling just four overs yesterday.

:: England this morning confirmed that fast bowler Steven Finn will play no further part in this first tour match because of the thigh strain he suffered while bowling just four overs yesterday.

PA

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