|Scorecard:||England v South Africa|
|Event:||South Africa in England 2012|
DateLine: 5th August 2012
England v South Africa, 2nd Test, 3rd day
In association with Investec. Leeds – With the main focus of the sporting public on the Olympic Games down south in London, the northern city of Leeds too had much entertainment to offer and it came from the bat of Kevin Pietersen in the second Investec Test. In imperious form he dominated the play on the second day, registering his 21st Test century and bringing up 7,000 Test runs in the process. It was an extraordinary innings which saw him in supreme form and which brought out the best in him.
South Africa had no answer to his aggression as he went from strength to strength taking control of the game. He made the tourists’ strong bowling attack look totally innocuous, forcing them almost into a state of disarray. By stumps he had helped England to 351 for five and trailing by 68 on the first innings and remaining unbeaten with 149 from 212 balls of which he hit 22 fours and a six.
England resumed their first innings on 48 without loss and lost the wicket of Alastair Cook within half an hour of the start of play. The ball from Vernon Philander pitched on just about the leg stump and moved across the left hander to pin him right in front. It was a waste of an England review to have gone to the third umpire. Andrew Strauss, on 19 overnight took his score to 32 with a lovely drive to the extra cover boundary off Philander just before rain stopped play for an hour and a half during which lunch was taken with England on 80 for one.
With playing time extended owing to rain, only seven overs were reduced and South Africa wasted little time in striking again. After just four overs, during which only five runs were scored, the second England wicket went with Dale Steyn having Strauss, on 37 from 106 balls, caught behind. Bowling from round the wicket, Steyn brought the ball into the left hander and Strauss edged it playing from the crease.
The stand between Jonathan Trott and Pietersen seemed to be progressing well although Trott’s shots were somewhat tentative at times. His drive to the wide mid-wicket boundary off Morne Morkel looked good but the next four came off the shoulder of the bat and another was edged to third man which would have gone into the hands of third slip had there been one. Pietersen, however, batted with authority, playing his shots with confidence. He was joined by Test debutant James Taylor with whom he added 147 for the fifth wicket. It would have been a satisfying debut for 22- year-old Taylor who contributed 34 patiently in two and a half hours and learnt much in watching his senior partner.
From the start of his innings Pietersen played freely opening his account with pull for four off Steyn whom he powerfully hit later as if with disdain to the extra cover boundary to take his score to 28. Meanwhile England lost Trott after the third wicket had put on 57. Trott edged Steyn to first slip playing at an away swing without moving his feet. His 35 runs had come in two hours and England were 142 for three. Pietersen took his score to 42, flicking Steyn to mid-wicket and then lost Ian Bell, just before tea, to yet another poor shot. Bell chased a ball from Kallis well outside off stump and paid the price giving Smith his second catch at first slip.
Pietersen continued to dominate in the final session with a spate of boundaries. A cracking shot to long on off Steyn in the first over after the break saw him to 47 and then he brought up his 28th Test half century when he pulled a long hop for his ninth boundary. He was dropped at short square leg on 52 by Hashim Amla off Morkel but he remained unperturbed and hit two boundaries in that same over taking his score to 60 and bringing up the two hundred of the innings.
While Pietersen was at ease facing all six bowlers, he seemed determined to win the contest with Steyn, the world N0. 1 ranked bowler, and certainly did so with boundaries all around the ground. Two fours in an over from Jacques Kallis took him to 84 and a run later he reached the landmark of 7,000 Test runs in his 88th Test match.
Having hit boundaries at will, he went to 95 in one’s and two’s then a square drive to cover took him to 99 before the next ball, from Philander pushed to mid-off for a quick run, saw him leap with joy at reaching three figures, off 142 balls. No doubt there was special meaning in it for him as it was scored against the country of his birth which he abandoned for a better opportunity of playing Test cricket.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)