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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in India

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen waited until Cook and Collingwood had both departed before playing his first - and most expansive - switch hit which landed halfway back in the stand at extra cover

Kevin Pietersen's 15th Test century was one of his most brazen.

Apart from playing virtually every shot in the book - and his favourite switch-hit which you will not find in any coaching manual - he also poked fun at the bowlers by working the ball into the leg-side from at least 18 inches outside his off-stump.

All of this, and a good sledging battle with his old mate Yuvraj Singh - what more could we ask for?

In fact, this thoroughly memorable innings began in the most absurd manner with Pietersen walking to the crease at 1-2.

Immediately, MS Dhoni brought Yuvraj on to bowl - India's third choice spinner bowling the third over of the innings! It seemed ridiculous. But it almost worked as Pietersen's ego took over and playing the man rather than the ball, he was almost out three times in the over.

One member of the England entourage told me that he had to leave the dressing room during the over, such was the tension and utter disbelief at the way the captain was playing.

After lunch, Pietersen relaxed, but still maintained his positive approach with Alistair Cook, and the runs rattled up.

Pietersen waited until Cook and Collingwood had both departed before playing his first - and most expansive - switch hit which landed halfway back in the stand at extra cover.

Although Dhoni set a man back on the boundary, Pietersen continued to play his left-handed shot, but in a more measured manner designed to keep the bowler guessing rather than to clear the fence.

606: DEBATE
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Andrew Flintoff had to work very hard at the start of his innings because he hates starting against spinners. Flintoff is much happier with the ball coming on to the bat, and I am not convinced that he reads the variations of the leg-spinner Mishra.

But he battled away, happy to let Pietersen do the bulk of the scoring to reach his first half-century in five Tests.

But it all went wrong in the dying moments of the day when Pietersen, on 144, nonchalantly missed an off-break from Harbhajan and seemed stunned when umpire Rauf raised his finger.

This brought in James Anderson as nightwatchman, whose job it was to protect Flintoff at all costs. Why, then, he took a single from the third delivery of the final over is something only he can answer.

Flintoff, distracted by the fast fading light, edged the last ball - a top spinner from Mishra - into his pad and Gambhir took a brilliant low catch at short leg.

So the Indians are very much in control of the game again and, as Pietersen acknowledged at the end of an exhilarating day, a draw would be as good as a win for England.

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see also
India rally after Pietersen ton
21 Dec 08 |  England
Late wickets deflate Pietersen
21 Dec 08 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
20 Dec 08 |  England
Match scorecard
15 Dec 08 |  separator


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