Pietersen savours sweet taste of 99
Kevin Pietersen believes he has finally ironed out the technical flaws that plagued his preparations for the first Test against Bangladesh.
Stand-in Test captain Alastair Cook scored an imperious 158 not out as England punished the Tigers on the opening day in Chittagong, cruising to 374 for three after being asked to bat first.
But potentially more important in the long term than Cook’s nerveless hundred, was the 99 that heralded the return to form of the side’s premier batsman.
Pietersen had made just 69 in his previous seven innings in Bangladesh, but looked close to top form during his knock with some crunching shots down the ground.
His struggles had been put down to a vulnerability against left-arm spin and, although Abdur Razzak broke through the right-hander's defence, he looked comfortable for long periods.
“You don’t like getting out for 99...I’ve had a 99, I’ve had a 97, I’ve had a 96, I’ve had a 92 and it’s not nice,” he conceded.
“But I can tell you that getting out for 20 the other day wasn’t nice and getting out for one in the one-day series wasn’t nice either.
“Sometimes you hit a patch when you don’t know where your next run is coming from and I’ve had that for the last couple of weeks.
“It was hard but you have to work things out in your game. Everyone is human, everyone goes through a patch where they struggle but I’ve never stopped trying.
“The extra run is insignificant, though it may not look it on the scoreboard, and I’d have taken 99 this morning that’s for sure.”
Pietersen has been putting in extra shifts in the nets with team director Andy Flower - and has previously called on the wisdom of former national coach Duncan Fletcher - but today he revealed another source of advice: India batsman Rahul Dravid.
“I’ve had to make an adjustment against left-arm spin,” Pietersen admitted. “I knew there was something I had to tinker with and I had a long conversation with a friend of mine, Rahul Dravid.
“He gave me a few tips and I’ve just got a really nice message from him saying ‘it worked’.
“I’ve played with Rahul for Bangalore, I’ve played a lot of Test match cricket against him and in two weeks I’ll be spending a month with him (at the Indian Premier League).
“It’s great to spend time speaking to people like that and he’s helped a heck of a lot.”
Cook, who became the fifth Englishman to reach three figures in his first Test as captain - Pietersen was the fourth - resumes tomorrow morning two runs short of his Test-best.
And the opener admits his first day at the helm could not have been sweeter.
“It’s what dreams are made of,” he said. “To bat all day today, I’m really proud of that and obviously the team are in a really good position too.
“Hopefully, we’ll play at the same tempo and keep going and get a really big one.”
Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons was left to answer questions on what now looks like a disastrous decision to take the field.
He admitted the call was proved to be a bad one and all but wrote off his team’s chances of a win with four days left.
“In hindsight it was probably a bad decision, but we thought we knew a bit about the Chittagong wicket,” he said.
“We thought that it would spin on day one and get flatter and flatter like it has in the past, but for some unknown reason it didn’t turn.
“We’ve probably put ourselves out of the game. I don’t think two teams can win the game from here. We are pretty much out of the game, unless we bowl terrifically in the morning and even then we have to bat the house down.”
The new Brit Insurance 2010-11 official England Cricket Team kit will be available to pre order from April 1 via ecb.co.uk, and in store from April 29