Muralitharan refuses to be outshone on KP's day
Saturday 27 May 2006
If this was a day that Kevin Pietersen ensured would be memorable, it was one that belonged equally to Muttiah Muralitharan for keeping Sri Lanka within reach of England.
If the extraordinary, unorthodox talents of England's newest folk hero are capable of altering the direction of a match unaided, the same can be said of Sri Lanka's spin bowling phenomenon and this was such an occasion. Yesterday's Birmingham crowd witnessed both men at their extraordinary best, their outrageous abilities encapsulated within the space of three deliveries as Pietersen took his bold, audacious batting to a new level by reverse-sweeping his adversary for six only to fall victim to Murali's mystery weapon - the doosra - just two balls later.
Of the stroke that will be seen as defining his approach to the game, Pietersen admitted it was a moment of cheekiness he may never repeat. "It was a very naughty shot, really," he said. "I got a bit overconfident I suppose, but it was premeditated. All the other boundary options were closed. But I didn't think I would hit it, let alone hit it for six, and it is a shot you probably won't see again for a while."
Murali suffered at other moments, Pietersen taking him for three consecutive fours in another over, but still found the grace to congratulate his opponent. "He played a brilliant innings, dominating the bowling," he said. "Jonty Rhodes once reverse swept me for four, but nobody has ever hit a six that way in a Test match. He is up there with the best in the world at the moment."
But Murali had the last word, obtaining an lbw verdict as Pietersen succumbed to the Sri Lankan's trademark doosra, the disguised delivery that turns away from the right-hander instead of breaking to leg.
"I have a good reach and that negates some of the turn, but to say I pick him better than others is nonsense," Pietersen said. "I promise you I'm clueless." His dismissal set England into freefall, losing their last five wickets for just five runs.
Murali finished with an analysis of 6 for 86 from 25 overs, his best figures in England since his extraordinary performance at the Oval in 1998, on his first Test appearance here, when he took 16 wickets - seven in the first innings, nine in the second - as Sri Lanka achieved a 10-wicket victory. He has taken five or more wickets in an innings an astonishing 52 times.
Moment of the day
Kevin Pietersen stole the show but Andrew Flintoff put him on his backside with a vicious straight drive off the bowling of Muttiah Muralitharan. Pietersen looked indignant as he picked himself up out of the dust after his captain showed him that he could hit the ball hard as well.
Shot of day
Neither I, nor any of my colleagues in the press box, quite know how Pietersen's reverse swept Muralitharan over cover point for six. It was simply astonishing. Pietersen changed his grip as the ball came down the wicket and ended up playing it as a left-hander. What confidence. What cheek. What class.
Ball of day
It may have only removed the England nightwatchman, Matthew Hoggard, but, even so, it was still a tremendous delivery. Chaminda Vaas has once again struggled for wickets in England but the inswinging yorker that knocked out Hoggard's off-stump to dismiss him for just three runs was an absolute beauty.
* Live: 10.30, Sky Sports 1
* Highlights: Five, 19.15
* A wet morning but a drier, brighter afternoon. Max temp: 19C.
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Charlton sex tape: is the #sextratime Vine real or just another publicity stunt?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Ringside tickets set to cost up to £100,000 as Eddie Hearn warns fans could be priced out of fight
Brooklyn Beckham to be released: Why Arsenal could regret letting David Beckham's son depart
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit