Pietersen double ton puts England in control

England 474-8 dec, India 17-0
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The Independent Online

A mighty double hundred from Kevin Pietersen, his first century at home for nearly three years, put England in charge on day two of the first npower Test against India at Lord's.

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Having last reached three figures in this country in August 2008, Pietersen chose the occasion of the 2,000th Test to score 202 not out, his fifth ton at the home of cricket, 18th century and third score beyond 200.

Pietersen's innings started doggedly, and he can consider himself fortunate to have survived a debated catch on 49, but by the declaration on 474 for eight, he was at his swaggering best.

In all Pietersen had batted for over eight hours, hitting 21 fours and a six and passing 6,000 Test runs in the process.

India, meanwhile, toiled for large periods as they failed to mask the loss of their stricken spearhead Zaheer Khan, absent with a hamstring strain, though there was some joy for Praveen Kumar.

The swing bowler twice took two wickets in an over to check English momentum and closed with five for 106 to join Pietersen on the famous honours board.

England resumed on 127 for two, with Jonathan Trott driving the first boundary of the day off Praveen and Pietersen immediately more assured than during his skittish 22-run cameo yesterday.

He got going with two punchy fours through mid-on and was soon collecting regular singles.

Trott looked typically solid and it was a surprise to see Praveen beat the bat and trap him lbw on the back foot for 70.

India installed a leg slip for Praveen and it looked like a master stroke when Pietersen, one short of his half-century, turned one round his pad to the waiting Rahul Dravid.

Having dropped Trott on eight yesterday, the 38-year-old got down well this time but could not be certain of the catch and the umpires sent the decision upstairs.

As so often happens, replays gave the batsman the benefit of the doubt and Pietersen survived, though he can feel fortunate to have done so.

His 50 followed off 134 deliveries, the longest Pietersen has ever taken to reach that mark.

Harbhajan Singh was bowling to some defensive fields but was struggling to contain England, Pietersen timing a four over mid-off and Ian Bell scoring briskly on both sides of the wicket.

Pietersen then clubbed an aggressive, though not entirely impressive, stroke off Ishant Sharma for two to bring up the 200.

At lunch England were 217 for three but Mahendra Singh Dhoni hatched a new plan during the interval, handing Dravid the wicketkeeping gloves and awarding himself the first over after the break.

Despite bowling only three Test overs before, he started well and thought he had Pietersen caught behind by Dravid with his ninth ball.

Bowden heard a noise but Pietersen swiftly opted to review it, with TV umpire Marais Erasmus determining that bat clipped pad rather than ball.

India, having already vetoed Hawk-Eye for the series, were left to rue the entire DRS process as the dangerous Pietersen was rightly reprieved.

Dhoni returned behind the stumps after opting for the new ball, only for Sharma to drop it short and allow Pietersen to ease into past 90 with a meaty pull.

An elegant on-drive off Sharma brought his 10th four and, more importantly, his 18th Test hundred.

Moments after Pietersen's energetic celebrations had subsided, Praveen struck gold twice in four balls.

First Bell was caught well by Dhoni for 45 then Eoin Morgan followed for a duck to the same combination.

Replays suggested the ball may have struck pad rather than bat but Morgan appeared happy with the decision and departed without delay.

Matt Prior quickly settled and reached 21 in 36 balls before tea to nudge the total beyond 300.

Pietersen endured a third referral on 132 but his botched reverse sweep did not come off the glove.

Prior was seeing the ball well and slapped the weary Sharma for his fifth boundary on his way to a 72-ball half-century.

The England keeper upped the ante by taking 10 in an over off the misfiring Harbhajan but was caught behind for 71 moments later, giving the tireless Praveen a fourth success.

He needed only one ball at Stuart Broad to make it five and join Pietersen on the honours' board, snaring the left-hander leg before with an inswinger.

Graeme Swann survived the hat-trick ball allowing Pietersen to take control as he passed 150 by clubbing successive fours off Praveen.

By now he was the bruising Pietersen of old, drilling Sharma for three powerful boundaries in a dominant over.

Swann joined the fun with three fours of his own - one all-run - off Harbhajan's next over, but was undone by Suresh Raina for 24.

Raina had no such luck against Pietersen, who hit him for a sequence of four, six, two, four to bring up his 200 and bring the declaration.

Click here for the latest scorecard.

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