Pietersen proud of astonishing achievements
Kevin Pietersen believes he is in the best form of his life after compiling a remarkable unbeaten 149 and passing 7,000 five-day runs on day three of the second Investec Test against South Africa at Headingley Carnegie.
With England slipping to 172 for four, the 32-year-old turned the game on its head with an astonishing array of shots that deflated the South Africa bowling attack.
The right-hander struck 22 fours and a six in his 212-ball innings and scored 106 runs in an extended final session to lift England to 351 for five, just 68 runs behind the Proteas’ 419 all out.
Pietersen went into the three-match series in fine fettle following his double hundred for Surrey against Middlesex in the LV= County Championship, and says he is full of confidence with willow in hand.
“I’ve never batted better in my life,” said Pietersen, whose previous Test ton was a game-changing 193 versus Sri Lanka in Colombo during early April.
“I think my last two [Test hundreds] were my best. It’s always nice to get Test hundreds, getting 7,000 Test runs was quite nice and I really enjoyed that. It was a special day.
“Today was against a bowling attack that never stops coming at you. They are fighters, it doesn’t matter if it is the first ball or the penultimate over that Dale Steyn bowled.
“He ran in there as fast as he bowled all day and to luckily get runs against that attack is something I will always cherish.”
Pietersen started his onslaught after tea against Morne Morkel, who bowled several short deliveries from round the wicket that were crunched to the boundary, and never looked back.
“I was going through the gears and knew he [Morkel] was tired and I knew his role was to go out and bowl fast,” he added.
“I have done it in a Test before in Adelaide where I looked to score and thought it was an opportunity to get some runs. The best way to defend is to attack, get off strike and watch it from the other end. Some of them came off which was nice.”
Coming in at a difficult time, debutant James Taylor provided Pietersen with some excellent support, contributing 34 to a fifth-wicket stand of 147 which the latter felt disturbed South Africa’s line and lengths.
“It’s difficult to bowl to those lengths and then to bowl to me,” he explained. “Paul Collingwood and I have got a good partnership ratio for England because bowlers have to bowl to totally different lengths. It worked quite nicely.
“He got through some really nice spells. We have got an engine room of (Matt) Prior, (Tim) Bresnan and (Stuart) Broad that can hopefully benefit from the hard work Taylor did today."
South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald, who confirmed captain Graeme Smith will have his knee injury assessed tonight, felt the tourists were in command until Pietersen’s brilliance.
Smith’s problem is allied to opening partner Alviro Petersen being unable to field for the rest of the match due to a grade one strain of the right hamstring sustained yesterday. Petersen will bat again at Headingley, if required, and is expected to be for the Lord’s finale.
“We really felt the wicket before tea, having (Ian) Bell out, was a really big breakthrough,” Donald said.
“You come back with fresh ideas and the boys are a little bit perked up, but then you get Kevin Pietersen in the way. He played seriously well, the knock that I’ve seen today reminds me of when I ran into Brian Lara.
“He is someone in the category of a bit of a genius. When it comes to pulling off knocks like that with the run-rate he was going at. I felt we stuck to our guns very well and stuck to our strategies.
“We wanted to rough him up; that was something we worked on since the Kia Oval. Kevin Pietersen played a fantastic innings and got England back into the game. We have got to make a big play tomorrow morning.”