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Prolific Gale takes centre stage

Kevin Pietersen's comeback was pushed to the periphery as Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale stole the limelight on the first day of the LV= County Championship clash with Surrey.

England batsman Pietersen took the field for the first time in three months following a troublesome knee injury but, with his side bowling first, the closest he got to the action was four overs of part-time off-spin and a dropped half-chance at mid-off.

That aside, he had a less-than-taxing day in the field as Gale finished 114 not out, his third consecutive Division One century taking the table-topping White Rose to 292 for five at stumps.

Gale added 204 in a near-flawless fourth-wicket stand with Gary Ballance, who will join Pietersen in England's Twenty20 squad to face New Zealand next week.

The day started with the news that Australia great Ricky Ponting, who yesterday announced he will retire in October, would miss the match with a sore hand.

It was a major blow for winless Surrey, led for the first time by Alec Stewart following the sacking of Chris Adams, but Pietersen's presence at least offers some international-class batting when their turn comes.

The opening session went entirely contrary to expectations after Surrey opted to bowl first under ominously cloudy Headingley skies.

Experienced pair Chris Tremlett and Jon Lewis had the chance to exploit conditions but struggled to draw a loose stroke from Adam Lyth or Alex Lees.

When bad light forced an early lunch, the Yorkshire openers had mustered 50 without loss in 21 overs, Lyth shouldering most of the burden with 33 not out.

Tremlett did make the breakthrough early in the afternoon session, finding Lyth's edge after he made a solid 41.

Lees followed in the next over, Zander de Bruyn trapping him lbw for a diligent 15 having found his yorker.

Surrey were buoyant and added the wicket of Joe Sayers for five when de Bruyn held on at slip off Tim Linley.

At 77 for three, Gale and Ballance had work to do and responded with aplomb.

Gale, pictured right, was quickly into his stride, scoring 24 of his first 25 runs in boundaries, while Ballance's first four, cut through point, took the total past 100.

The 50 partnership occupied just 76 balls and Surrey responded by pairing first-choice spinner Gary Keedy with Pietersen's occasional turn.

It was Pietersen's first real involvement following a quiet spell at mid-off and he sent down four low-key overs, including a maiden to Ballance, at a cost of 13 before tea.

Yorkshire reached the interval at 176 for three and Gale nudged Tremlett's second ball after the restart for a single to herald the century stand.

Gale's 10th boundary brought up the Yorkshire 200 and, moments later, Ballance drove Lewis through cover to bring up his fifty in 106 deliveries.

Vikram Solanki rotated his bowlers without any success, Gale increasingly able to accumulate runs at will.

On 95, he attempted to reach three figures with a six off Keedy but only succeeded in skying the ball high in the air.

Pietersen was the man back-pedalling to make the catch yet, although he got a touch, could not hold on.

Gale settled for a lower-risk approach when turning Keedy to midwicket to bring up a fine hundred in 137 balls.

Lewis hit back late in the day for Surrey, trapping Ballance lbw 10 short of his ton and then having Adil Rashid held in the cordon for a single.

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