Pietersen's back-to-back hundreds set stiff target

England A 377 & 297-8 dec South Zone 174 & 171-2
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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen completed his second hundred of the match but England A will have to work hard on the final day if they are to beat South Zone in the Duleep Trophy here.

After Pietersen had made 115 off 164 balls to add to his first-innings 104 and helped the tourists to declare on 297 for 8, the England A attack came up against some tough resistance from South Zone's Yalaka Venugopal Rao (88no) and Sridharan Sriram (78no), who put on an unbroken stand of 170 for the third wicket.

The Indians, needing 501 for an improbable victory, were in big trouble when they lost both openers with only one run on the board as England's new-ball pair, Sajid Mahmood and Simon Francis, each struck.

But Rao, who also made an unbeaten half-century in the first innings, then joined forces with Sriram and they swept along at more than four runs an over, the recalled England Test paceman Simon Jones conceding 34 runs off 23 balls.

Pietersen continued his prolific batting form from day two, hitting 10 fours and two sixes, while the Essex all-rounder Graham Napier weighed in with an unbeaten 64 to add to his first-innings 76.