By Glen Robertson and Dominic Farrell
As Kevin Pietersen gets set for his 100th Test appearance at Brisbane, ecb.co.uk looks back on five of his best innings for England. Click here to see images of them.
158 v Australia, The Oval 2005
A batsman never forgets his first Test century but Pietersen’s was more memorable than most. In the fifth match of one of the all-time great Ashes series, England had to avoid defeat to win the urn for the first time since 1986-87. Pietersen had made two fifties at Lord’s on his debut, but a triple-figure score had proved elusive.
And so to The Oval in the second innings. Pietersen arrived at the crease with England 67 for three - a lead of 73. They slipped to 199 for seven, which kept the tourists very much in the game.
But Pietersen’s superb display, backed up by a dogged Ashley Giles, who faced 97 balls for his 59, took England out of sight.
Pietersen had been dropped three times by the time he reached 60 but went on to score 158 - including an English Ashes record seven sixes, as England secured a 2-1 series victory and celebrated the return of the urn.
142 v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston 2006
An innings that will be remembered for one shot, but also a vastly significant knock.
After a drawn first Test, in which Pietersen matched his highest score of 158, England went 1-0 up in the three-match series with a six-wicket win, with Pietersen's heroics a major factor.
The tourists scored 141 in their first knock and Pietersen beat that score himself, underpinning 295 all out with a blistering 142. To put his imperious form in context, no other player managed to pass 30 during their first innings on the Edgbaston wicket.
But it was the moment when, facing legendary spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, Pietersen unleashed the switch-hit for a huge six that will be remembered through the ages. The players were as stunned as those watching on from the stands and the press box, not to mention on television.
Pietersen, the ultimate showman, had offered some customary entertainment while providing the substantial difference between the two teams.
227 v Australia, Adelaide 2010
Having spent the best part of 100 overs padded up in the Gabba pavilion as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott’s remarkable run-making efforts secured a draw for England in the first Test of the triumphant 2010-11 Ashes series, Pietersen piled more misery on to the hosts' attack at the Adelaide Oval.
Returning to the venue where he struck 158 in a seemingly decisive alliance with double-centurion Paul Collingwood before England collapsed to an improbable and hideous defeat four years earlier, Pietersen ensured Ricky Ponting’s side would not be let off the hook on this occasion.
England were already within sight of Australia’s first-innings 245 by the time Ryan Harris dismissed Trott, and Pietersen joined Cook with the score 176 for two.
Century stands with the opener, Collingwood and Ian Bell would ensure it disappeared from view and an unfamiliar drought of 18 Test matches without reaching three figures was emphatically brought to an end as Pietersen racked up his highest score in the longest format.
The twin sights of the rangy strokemaker planting left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty back over his head for six and advancing towards Doug Bollinger to clatter the paceman through midwicket underscored a display of belligerent brilliance that set up a resounding innings-victory.
151 v Sri Lanka, Colombo 2012
Half-centuries from captain Andrew Strauss, Cook and Trott before him laid the foundations for Pietersen’s superb knock that inspired England to a series-tying eight-wicket win.
In a confident and clinical display that secured a decisive first-innings lead for the tourists, Pietersen unfurled his trademark switch-hit amid a range of superb shots on his way to a 29th international hundred – surpassing Graham Gooch’s previous leading mark for England.
A sluggish Colombo pitch made quick scoring a tricky proposition, as evidenced by Mahela Jayawardene’s impressively dogged progress to a day-one ton, but – not for the first time in his career – Pietersen appeared to be playing a different game to those around him.
Progress to 18 from 33 balls at lunch on day three was far from shabby and Pietersen tore through the gears thereafter, pilfering a remarkable 39 runs from the 17 deliveries off-spinner Suraj Randiv sent his way and thrashing Tillakaratne Dilshan to all parts at more than a run a ball.
186 v India, Mumbai 2012
A familiar alliance brought India to their knees in Mumbai as England secured a series-squaring second Test victory and Cook and Pietersen chalked up their record-equalling 22nd Test centuries.
On a wicket offering substantial turn – 19 of the 20 India wickets to fall were accounted for by England spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar – Pietersen made light of the conditions with a virtually flawless display.
The full array of his wonderful strokeplay was there for all to see in an innings where no England player barring himself and Cook passed 30. His long-stride was omnipresent in a water-tight defence that becalmed Ravichandran Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha before reducing India’s tweakers to cannon fodder.
Ojha eventually had his man caught at the wicket after a 223-ball stay on his way to a five-wicket haul, but two fours and three sixes in the space of 17 deliveries from the same bowler as Pietersen ran through the repertoire stood as the innings’ defining passage.
Colin Cowdrey, Geoffrey Boycott and Alec Stewart all marked their 100th Test match by scoring a century. Who would bet against Pietersen celebrating the landmark in similar fashion?