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Page last updated at 11:49 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

India rally after Pietersen ton

Second Test, Mohali (day three, close):
India 453 v England 282-6

Dates: 19-23 December Start time: 0400 GMT (0330 GMT on Monday)
Coverage: Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 LW and BBC 5 Live Sports Extra, live text commentary on BBC Sport website, and live on Sky Sports 1

By Jamie Lillywhite

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen's attacking intent helped England to an impressive run-rate

Kevin Pietersen made the highest score by an England captain in India as his team reached 282-6, a deficit of 171, after three days of the final Test.

The skipper's 144 contained 17 fours and a switch-hit for six but he was out lbw two overs before stumps and Andrew Flintoff fell to the final ball for 62.

Pietersen shared 102 with Alastair Cook (50) and 149 in 40 overs with Flintoff.

It was a fine rally after two wickets fell in the first seven balls when play began 90 minutes late due to dense fog.

A classic Pietersen century contained a slightly scratchy start, followed by flips through the leg-side, crunching drives straight down the ground and outrageous strokes, interspersed with verbal exchanges with Yuvraj Singh.

Yuvraj's jibes inspired Pietersen far more than the fielding team, and the captain's innings also set the tone for a healthy run-rate throughout, something few would have imagined first thing.

The proposed early start was delayed by 90 minutes because of fog so dense it left the wicket invisible from the boundary edge.

Although it gave way to clear sunshine, those who witnessed the opening exchanges must have felt they were still shrouded in a haze.

Andrew Strauss, centurion in both innings in the first Test, played across the third ball of the innings and was lbw, while Ian Bell left a gap between bat and pad and saw his middle stump uprooted by Ishant Sharma's first delivery.

The seamers were buoyant but Mahendra Dhoni, never one to shirk from an audacious hunch, brought on slow left-armer Yuvraj to bowl the third over at Pietersen, whom he dismissed in the first Test.

TMS Close of Play - Second Test, day three

Pietersen seemed unimpressed and was determined to attack, fortunate to escape with an inside edge into his pad with a furious drive from the first ball he faced from Yuvraj.

Cook timed the ball exquisitely, with a minimum of effort, and matched Pietersen's scoring-rate as the 100 came off the first ball of the 20th over.

The left-hander, who scored a century on his debut in India in March 2006, looked certain to end a run of 19 innings without reaching three figures but a stunning inswinging yorker from Zaheer Khan restricted him to his eighth fifty in that time.

Amit Mishra, who took five wickets at this ground on his debut against Australia in November, struck with his third delivery, Paul Collingwood unfortunate to receive a magnificently flighted leg-spinner that fizzed off the pitch and took the edge.

Flintoff followers would have been rather anxious to see their man begin against leg-spin, but from the moment he clipped a full toss to the mid-wicket fence he looked in fine touch, positive but not reckless.

His natural strength and timing was more than enough, and he evoked memories of halcyon days when he stepped down the wicket to launch Yuvraj back over his head for six.

606: DEBATE
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Pietersen, in his 45th Test, was much more unorthodox, looking to score at every opportunity by working the ball into the gaps, but calmly notched his 15th hundred with a swept single.

He collected another landmark by becoming the fastest, in terms of days, to 4,000 Test runs and the charismatic captain has now passed 1,000 in each of the last three calendar years.

The scoring slowed a touch in the fading light and Pietersen was lbw playing back to Harbhajan, before the gloss was well and truly taken off England's recovery with Flintoff's dismissal.

Flintoff, who had questioned the conditions, was caught close in off bat and pad after being exposed to the strike by a single from nightwatchman James Anderson.

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see also
Late wickets deflate Pietersen
21 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
21 Dec 08 |  England
India duo leave England trailing
20 Dec 08 |  England
England crushed by Tendulkar ton
15 Dec 08 |  England
England in India 2008
01 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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