Pietersen power and Bell finesse give England tantalising glimpse of future

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The Independent Online

Centuries from England's two fledgling batsmen yesterday bestowed on the second Test an enduring legacy. Whatever happens in the rest of a match still simmering with potential friction, it will be remembered, barring accident, disaster or selectorial madness, as the day a new middle order was definitively forged.

In their contrasting styles, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell each left an indelible impression as England finished the third day 71 runs adrift of Pakistan's 462. The manner in which they reached their hundreds to keep England hanging on to Pakistan's coat-tails, embodied their styles. Pietersen muscularly hooked one of the world's fastest bowlers, Shoaib Akhtar, for six before holing out next ball. Bell delicately guided Shahid Afridi for four to third man.

"We're just two young lads making our way in Test cricket," said Pietersen. "It was fantastic for two youngsters to bat for three or four hours." Since they came together at 107 for 3, when England were still 355 behind, Pietersen was not overstating the case.

Neither innings was chanceless and both will have rued getting out but they showed their growing maturity as international batsmen and that can only be good news for England.

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