x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Pietersen ton puts England in control

A sublime century from Kevin Pietersen put England in control of the first test match at Lord's.

The England batsman Kevin Pietersen celebrates his century in the first innings against South Africa at Lord's.
The England batsman Kevin Pietersen celebrates his century in the first innings against South Africa at Lord's.

LONDON // Kevin Pietersen scored a belligerent century on Thursday to put England firmly in control of the first test against South Africa after the opening day at Lord's. After being sent in to bat, England finished on 309 for three wickets after a wobble midway through the afternoon session. The home side lost three wickets for the addition of just three runs. Pietersen, who was felled by a bouncer from Dale Steyn at the start of his innings, powered his way to 104 not out in his first test against the country of his birth. Ian Bell, with whom Pietersen has added 192 runs for the fourth wicket, will resume tomorrow on 75.

Pietersen admitted that scoring a century at Lord's against South Africa was one of the greatest achievements of his career. "I'd say it's on a par with the 158 I scored against Australia during the ashes," Pietersen said. "The crowd just kept on applauding - they were magnificent. I feel so, so loved," he added. "It was one of the most emotional two minutes of my career." Pietersen has a phenomenal record against the South Africans. When he made his debut for the England one-day team in South Africa in 2005, he made three centuries in a row. On Thursday, he began quietly. He could have been run out without scoring, but Hasim Amla failed to collect Makhaya Ntini's wild throw with Pietersen well short of his ground. After tea, though, Pietersen played an array of astonishing shots. He took a particular shine to left-arm spinner Paul Harris, hitting 11 in one over that included a huge six over long off. Morne Morkel, the South African pace bowler, said that Pietersen put the bowlers under immense pressure. "It was a fantastic knock from KP," Morkel said. "Your margin of error when bowling to him is just so small. You really have to be so tight with him." Pietersen brought up his 13th test century, from 127 balls, with a handsome cut for four off Morkel. Earlier, it was Morkel who made the breakthrough after a disappointing morning session. England had reached 114 without loss when Morkel trapped Andrew Strauss leg before wicket for 44. Three runs later, Steyn bowled England captain Michael Vaughan for two. Five balls later, Morkel dug a sharply rising delivery in at Alastair Cook and he fended it to A.B. de Villiers at slip. Cook struck nine boundaries to make 60 and, before his dismissal, rarely looked troubled by the Proteas attack. South Africa, who have won three times in a row by enormous margins at Lord's since readmission in 1991, failed to make an impression in the opening session after winning the toss. Steyn, reputedly the quickest bowler in the world, bowled only three overs before captain Graeme Smith replaced him with Morkel. Although Steyn conceded just a single in his opening spell, he bowled so wide of off stump that he wasted the new ball in ideal seam-bowling conditions. Morkel fared even worse. He was replaced after two overs after conceding 12 runs. However, both bowlers returned later in the session from the pavilion end and bowled with better rhythm and pace. It was not until after lunch though that their more disciplined approach yielded any success. "I think we tried a little too hard," Morkel said. "Eventually we settled down but we didn't hit the right areas and we didn't put them under enough pressure. Tomorrow we have to go out there and rein them in." The only South African bowler to make an impression in the first session was the 31-year-old Makhaya Ntini. Although he has lost raw pace, Ntini has discovered movement and seam and had both openers playing and missing in his opening spell.

* AP