Pietersen content with slow progress
Having batted longest on day one of the crucial fourth and final Test, Kevin Pietersen was well-placed to judge that England are in a reasonable position at 199 for five on a turgid pitch.
Pietersen eschewed his usual fluent strokeplay on what he described as “the slowest wicket I’ve ever played on” to compile a patient 73.
With India needing victory in Nagpur to share the series, there was speculation aplenty about the playing surface at the VCA Stadium.
Pietersen, who faced 188 balls in 202 minutes at the crease, said: “It’s the toughest wicket I’ve played Test cricket on, in terms of trying to play strokes.
“I think we’ve gone okay at 200 for five. But my guess is as good as anyone’s as to what that wicket is going to do. I don’t know ... but goodness, it’s slow.
“I think the key to today was to try to bat for as long as possible, because I don’t think that wicket is getting better.”
Pietersen’s downfall left England teetering at 139 for five, but surprise debutant Joe Root and Matt Prior offered doughty resistance with 31 and 34 respectively.
Referring to 21-year-old Root, normally an opening batsman, Pietersen said: “He played beautifully. He’s got a real good head on his shoulders. He’s his own man and he will play us an incredible knock tomorrow if he can bat for a few sessions or so.
“Never judge anybody after a couple of hours batting for England, but he’s shown signs of what could be a very good Test career. He didn’t need too much help. He came in there, and was scoring freely.
“He’s a good little player and a lovely man as well. He’s a good human being.”
Besides Root, the tourists’ other change from the third Test was Tim Bresnan replacing the injured Steven Finn, meaning their attack consists of two seamers and spinners. India, however, picked just one paceman in Ishant Sharma.
Asked whether Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar will excel here as they have done so far in the series, Pietersen replied: “I’m not too sure whether Swann and Panesar (will enjoy bowling on this pitch). Maybe on day three, four and five if we get there.
“But I think we might have a little trick up our sleeve having two seamers because I found Ishant Sharma really, really hard to score against. We hope ’Bressie’ and Jimmy can do us a really good job.”