Peerless Pietersen takes Lancashire apart
Kevin Pietersen exhibited outstanding form en route to the highest score in this year’s LV= County Championship as Surrey fought back against Lancashire on day three at Guildford.
In his only four-day appearance prior to next week’s first Investec Test between England and South Africa, Pietersen showed no sign of rustiness as he clobbered eight sixes and 30 fours to reach 234 not out from 190 balls.
That helped Surrey to 430 for five in reply to Lancashire's 485 for seven declared, with Pietersen and Zander de Bruyn, who made 94, putting on 181 in 34 overs for the third wicket.
"It was great to spend time in the middle ahead of next week's Test. That must be my best innings in county cricket," said Pietersen.
"I've felt good for a while now, and it's a huge Test series coming up against South Africa."
Pietersen, who had played just five Twenty20 matches since the third Test against West Indies a month ago, took just 170 balls to reach his double hundred as he pulverised the champions’ attack.
The 32-year-old reached his first hundred from 93 balls, the fastest in domestic first-class cricket this season, by pulling Simon Kerrigan for six.
Lancashire’s slow left-armer came in from some fearful punishment as the England batsman marked a rare county appearance with a truly masterful performance.
Six of Pietersen's maximums came off Kerrigan, the first two driven over the sightscreen, and also a fair number of his fours. Kerrigan's toil was at least rewarded with the scalp of De Bruyn, who was leg before just before tea sweeping, but at the end of the day he was nursing figures of 1-152 from 23 overs.
The Red Rose opted to add to their overnight 425 for seven this morning and Steven Croft finished on a career-best 154 not out, with 19 fours and a six, after scoring 50 of the 60 runs added in 37 minutes of batting.
Surrey lost Rory Burns to the first ball of their reply, the left-hander losing his off stump when shouldering arms to Glen Chapple.
De Bruyn then helped Zafar Ansari add 49 for the second wicket, in careful fashion, before the latter edged Ajmal Shahzad to second slip just before lunch.
Pietersen was off the mark third ball, with a three guided to third man off Shahzad, and was unbeaten on four at lunch, which Surrey took at 53 for two.
Afterwards, however, he was soon on the attack - with Shahzad and Kerrigan his initial targets.
Shahzad was driven straight for four and twice whipped through midwicket for further boundaries, and when Kerrigan was switched to the Railway End his first ball was driven for six by Pietersen in an over costing 15.
Pietersen brought up his half-century from 42 balls and was soon pulling Chapple and paddle-sweeping Kerrigan for fours of contrasting style.
Power and deftness were combined as Pietersen, surging past his previous best for Surrey of 69, showed he is in the mood to take on South Africa in England's keenly-anticipated three-Test series.
Once he had registered a fifty of his own from 89 balls, de Bruyn also opened up to play some memorable strokes.
Pietersen was joined by Steven Davies after tea in a stand of 72, before the wicketkeeper-batsman was caught behind slashing at Tom Smith.
Further support was then provided by Jason Roy, who hit 38 before skying an attempted hook at Shahzad to long leg.
Pietersen motored on, reaching his double-hundred with a pulled single to deep midwicket off Shahzad, and the crowd stood to applaud him again when he walked off at the close.