Pietersen puts victory in sight

Nottinghamshire 326 & 318-6 Leicestershire 243 & 5-1
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen's second explosive contribution to this match put Nottinghamshire in firm control after Leicestershire had contrived to throw away Virender Sehwag's brilliant work. Chasing an unlikely 402 to win, the home side lost nightwatchman David Masters in the four overs they faced after Nottinghamshire's declaration.

First Sehwag. In a mouth-watering spectacle that encompassed a century-in-a-session on Saturday evening, the brilliant 24-year-old indulged himself handsomely on an easy-paced pitch. Unbeaten on 121 from 122 balls overnight, the 24-year-old had moved on to 137 yesterday morning when his attempt to collect a 26th boundary via a lofted cut fell into the trap Nottinghamshire had laid by posting two third men.

It was an important breakthrough but should not have been the cue for what followed. In the next hour-and-a-half, seven more wickets fell and only 55 runs were scored. Having anticipated something close to parity with the visitors' 326, Leicestershire instead found themselves 83 runs in arrears, collapsing at the hands of left-arm seam and swing bowler Greg Smith (4 for 40) and the Australian leg-spinner, Stuart MacGill (3 for 44).

This was a position Nottinghamshire dare not waste in a match that may come to have a bearing on the relegation issues. Jason Gallian departed cheaply but after Darren Bicknell and Guy Welton had rebuilt the foundations, the dismissal of Bicknell to a fine catch by Paul Nixon ushered in Pietersen.

Currently, there are few more powerful clean hitters than the 6ft 4ins South African. Of his 88 on Saturday, 70 came in boundaries, a feat he repeated yesterday with three sixes and 13 fours, mercilessly punishing Rupesh Amin on his Leicestershire debut.

At one point Pietersen seemed to have invented his own version of Twenty20 cricket, blasting 20 in an over against the unfortunate Amin and failing by only three to do the same to Sehwag in the next. After reaching 51 off 72 balls, he fired the next 16 deliveries for 44 and was clearly furious to be given out caught behind for 95, taking a liberty with the first ball of Charlie Dagnall's return after tea.

There was disappointment, too, for Welton, who fell to a fine catch at short cover when a century looked his for the taking, but more rapid runs from Paul Franks and Chris Cairns looked to have put Nottinghamshire in an impregnable position.