No regrets from Pietersen
On a day when even the patience of a Buddhist monk would have been tested, Kevin Pietersen insists he felt no frustration at missing out on a century.
Pietersen’s sublime 85 lit up England’s march to 195 for four at the Rose Bowl, giving them a lead of 11 by the close of day three.
He perished in the penultimate over, having done much to entertain the spectators who, forced to sit through a delayed start, extended lunch and three stoppages for rain on a day limited to 51 overs' play, vented their anger in the form of booing and slow hand-claps.
Although Pietersen played in a manner that suggested he was acutely aware of the need to lighten the mood, he denied doing so – and also claimed it “wasn’t frustrating at all” when he edged Thisara Perera behind.
“To play the way I've played today has given me a lot of happiness,” he said. “If you'd said to me this morning (I would score) 85...
“I really, really enjoyed the way I played. They bowled pretty straight to me, and I was lucky enough to line it up really well,” he added, referring to the marked straightness of his bat during an innings spanning 115 balls.
“I had three or four scoring areas I've been really working hard on. To have gone back to basics and hit the ball straight, for me was brilliant.
“One of them was the ball that got me out, half-volley under the eyes hitting it through extra-cover, hitting it down the ground, and then short balls I look to score off.”
Pietersen looked in fabulous touch from the moment he drove Suranga Lakmal straight back past him, the first of 14 crisply struck fours.
He also used his feet superbly to stroke the first ball he faced from Rangana Herath through extra-cover, and later admitted that the media attention on his struggles against left-arm spin spurred him on to improve.
“I realise you guys have got a job to do, and if I give you ammunition you're going to fire the gun,” he said.
“I've probably given you enough ammunition; they've got me out quite a few times. That's the nature of the beast, but it's absolutely no drama to me.
“What it's made me do is play them a lot better than I would have, because I've worked that extra bit harder, thinking, ‘Have I got a problem? I've never had a problem with them’.”
The standing ovation afforded Pietersen capped a fine day for a player who was also cheered to the crease, with England 14 for two.
A former Hampshire player, Pietersen – now with Surrey – claims he expected little else, and added words of praise for the groundstaff to those directed towards the fans.
“The reception was fantastic; I don't see why it would be frosty,” he said. “I just changed county, which I'm sure hundreds and thousands of cricketers have done before.
“The groundstaff deserve huge, huge congratulations for first of all preparing an absolute cracker of a wicket, one of the best I've played on in England.
“They had a terrible day, taking covers off and putting them on, going out there for hardly any balls and, at one stage, none. It's tiring work and, because they did such a good job, we were lucky to play as much cricket as we did.
"I was lucky enough, on a very good wicket, to have played like that."
From the crowd's point of view, the feeling was mutual.