KP leads England recovery as slow-scoring visitors struggle on day one of final Test
David Clough, Press Association
11:02 GMT, 13 December 2012
11:52 GMT, 13 December 2012
Kevin Pietersen helped England recover from the loss of two early wickets to eke out 199 for five on a pitch of turgid low bounce on day one of the final Test against India.
Alastair Cook's tourists, needing a draw in Nagpur to close out an historic series victory, lost both openers – their captain and Nick Compton – to India's lone pace bowler Ishant Sharma inside the first hour.
But Pietersen (73) and Jonathan Trott then shared a hard-working stand of 86 in 39 overs after England had chosen to bat first.
Leading the recovery: Pietersen hit 73 off 188 balls at Nagpur
Pietersen had to play a very
different game in his 108-ball 50 today to the century with which he
transformed proceedings in England's famous second-Test victory in
Mumbai last month.
Extreme conditions here at the VCA
Stadium dictated that patience and watchfulness were a necessity, even
for a batsman of his world-class talent.
The same will surely pertain all
match, and may well mean England have fared acceptably at least –
especially after a second 50 partnership, unbroken between Matt Prior
and debutant Joe Root – on a surface precluding fluent strokeplay.
Compton was the first to be undone in slow-motion when a short delivery produced only looping, disorientating bounce.
He set himself with reflexes trained
for a pitch somewhere within the usual pace parameters. As the ball died
off the surface, Compton's bat was therefore thrown into position too
quickly and resulted in a thin edge which barely carried to the
No ordinary Joe: Root ended day one on 31 runs after facing 110 balls
Cook needed 15 balls to get off the
mark, as Pragyan Ojha took the new ball in the absence of a second
seamer and tried to out-bore the England captain with a seven-two
leg-side field and consequent negative line.
Trott contributed England's first
boundary, a straight-driven four when Sharma helpfully took the pitch
out of the equation with a half-volley.
But the No 3 was fortunate to survive on seven when he played too soon at a length ball and was hit on the pad.
Sharma was convinced the lbw was
stone-dead, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena made the marginal call that ball
had hit pad just outside the line of off-stump.
Cook found himself on the other side
of a similar ruling soon afterwards from Dharmasena – and although it
looked as if he was hit outside the line, this time he had to go lbw.
England were in danger of fluffing their lines just when they need one
more confident performance to complete their mission improbable on this
Take bat: Jonathan Trott led a fightback with Pietersen
But Trott and Pietersen provided
some much-needed stability as they gradually attuned themselves to an
unfamiliar experience, even by sub-continental standards.
Pietersen became sufficiently in sync to loft leg-spinner Piyush Chawla over mid-on for two boundaries in one over.
By early afternoon, he was also leg-glancing Ravichandran Ashwin for his seventh four to reach his half-century.
Trott dug in too for 133 balls until a
misjudgment against slow left-armer Ravindra Jadeja saw him wave
through an arm ball which bowled him off-stump.
Ian Bell disappointed, making only a single in 28 balls before poking a straightforward catch to cover off Chawla.
Pietersen had escaped a half-chance
on 61, when Cheteshwar Pujara could not quite gather a tough low catch
at midwicket off Sharma.
He shepherded Root through to tea.
But there was to be no record-equalling 23rd Test century, Pietersen
neatly caught low down by Ojha when he again chipped to midwicket – this
time advancing to Jadeja.
It was the latest in a series of
apparently unforced errors which had led to England wickets. But it
would be missing the point to view them in isolation, without reference
to the arduous process of trying to make runs in between with so little
pace and bounce on the batsman's side.
Prior joined Root, and the struggle
continued – favourably for England, though – for the remainder of the
evening session. Prior, like Pietersen, was forced to bat against type –
while Root impressed with his defensive technique and willingness to
meet spin with bat rather than pad even in the absence of DRS.
By the close, the jury had to stay
out on which team was ahead of the game. For England, after their
decidedly sticky start, deferred judgment was a tolerable outcome.
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