Kevin Pietersen to the rescue against South Africa

Kevin Pietersen once again delivered in the only way he knows how to put England firmly on top and remind South Africa just what they are missing. South African-born Pietersens 104 not out, his 13th Test ton, will mean an awful lot to him. As wil

l the acknowledgement of his

performance from his bitter old foe Graeme Smith, the skipper of the tourists. Along the way he was almost run out for nought and was hit on the back of the helmet

by Dale Steyn. But from the moment he pulled Morne Morkel for four in front of square

he was in the mood to dish out a masterclass - and it was. Pietersen has kept his counsel in the run up to this match, fully aware of the importance and significance of his first Te

st series against the country of his birth and youth. England captain Michael Vaughan described the glint in his eye at training as he prepared himself for a searching examination of his technique, his maturity and his ticker. There is no more Wimbledon, no more Grand Prix and no Open just yet, so all eyes are on Lords and that is just how KP likes it. How could we have expected anything less than a Pietersen hundred. Together with Ian Bell, who has batted beautifully for his 75 not out, the pair added an unbroken 192 to lift England to 309-3 at the close of day one in this npower series. But it could all have been so different for Pietersen, though, as his desperation to avoid the dreaded duck almost had him scurrying back to the pavilion, run out without scoring. If it had been Jonty Rhodes rather than Makhaya Ntini doing the fielding Pietersen would most certainly have joined Vaughan on the balcony without a meaningful contribution. It would have been a horror show for England, too, after losing their top three for three runs in 13 balls as a familiar minicollapse threatened to destabilise the entire innings. As is so often the case it was a dodgy decision that got the wickets tumbling as Andrew Strauss was sawn off by umpire Daryl Harper, lbw to Morkel, despite the ball pitching well outside the leg stump. There was little doubt about Vaughans dismissal though in the next over as Steyn finally found the late swing for which he is renowned and castled the skippers middle stump as he played down the wrong line. And just five balls later Alastair Cook was on his way, caught off the shoulder of the bat as he failed to cope with a shortish ball from Morkel. Strauss though will have been fuming, and his agonised look told the story as he was forced to walk off his favourite ground (average 60) against his favourite team (average 70) when he was well set on 44. Even th2020管家婆一句话赢钱 ough his wife Ruth is expecting their second child his mind was clearly on the job in hand as he helped Cook register their second hundred partnership of

the summer and nullify the South African pacemen. In truth, the much vaunted trio of Steyn, Ntini and Morkel failed to hit maximum velocity on the speed gun and Englands watchful openers could not have wished for a better start. Stuart Broad had warned within these pages yesterday that the Lords slope is not the easiest to deal with and perhaps the Prot

eas pacemen were left undercooked by the rain that had prevented any practice out in the middle before the game. However, they were sizzling by the time Bell joined Pietersen at the crease and at 117-3 the pair had their work cut out to make sure Smith would rue his decision to insert at the toss. For Bell, especially, it was a chance to respond to the pressure hes been under and prove the doubters who question his ability to score runs when it really matters, wrong. And he did it seemingly laying back in an ar

mchair puffing on a cigar. The way he nonchalantly eased Morkel through the covers for four first ball was a sign of things to come as he raced to 40 from just 46 balls either side of tea. Once he hit 40 though, his paced slowed as Pietersens picked up. Together they were laying the foundations for what should become a fearsome total today. Five years ago the man Pietersen branded an absolute muppet in his book - Smith - announced himself to England fans with two double tons. We already know who Pietersen is, but would you bet against something similar? LOWDOWN ON KP JOY THIS WAS HIS 13TH TEST CENTURY RUNS 104 BALL

S 133 4s 13 6s 1

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