Pietersen hails England batting unit
Kevin Pietersen expressed his satisfaction at England’s continued consistency with the bat after he and Ian Bell had combined to dominate India’s attack on day two of the fourth npower Test at the Kia Oval.
The pair made the most of ideal batting conditions by putting on 350 for the third wicket – a record for England against their current opposition - after the early loss of openers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss.
Pietersen eventually fell shortly before the close, having thrilled the sell-out crowd with a typically aggressive innings of 175 from 232 balls, but Bell remained unbeaten on 181 in an imposing score of 457 for three.
The Warwickshire batsman now has 16 Test centuries, while Pietersen has drawn level with Cook and Strauss on 19, just three shy of the record for an England batsman.
“It's been amazing to be part of a team where you've got guys who are hitting hundreds like this,” he said.
“It’s always nice to score around 400 runs in a day, and our team is doing it regularly at the moment.”
When asked about the possibility of overtaking current record-holders Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Boycott in the list of England centurions, Pietersen added: "It would be nice to get a record, but I think there are a lot of players in this team who are going to get more than 22 hundreds.
“It's not a competition; it's not a race. It's just a case of winning games for England, getting us into positions where we can win games.”
Although Pietersen was understandably pleased with his own performance today, he saved greater praise for the efforts of Bell, who did not offer a chance as he moved to within 18 runs of his career-best score.
“Belly’s been magnificent over the last 12-18 months, he’s grown as a person, he’s matured so much, and I love the fact he’s scoring runs so fluently,” said the 31-year-old.
“He’s so pleasing on the eye when he’s batting, and it’s just nice he’s gone to his 16th Test hundred. The hard work he’s put in since the Windies tour (in 2009) is paying dividends.”
On his own contribution, which represented a fourth three-figure score in Tests at this ground, he added: “After nicking my first two balls for four this morning off Sreesanth, if somebody had said to me 'you can have 175 and that's it' I would have said 'thank you, goodbye'.
“Getting Test hundreds is something you dream about when you're a kid and then trying to make a profession as a cricketer - so any Test hundred is amazing. To score four here now is pretty cool.”
Pietersen also rejected the notion that India’s beleaguered bowling line-up was among the weakest he had faced in the premier form of the game.
“Not at all,” he immediately responded. “There are a lot of very good bowlers in that team, very good.
“One of the principles our team lives by is using up as much of the new ball as possible, getting opposition bowlers up to their third, fourth and fifth spells, because then we know it will end up with some opportunities for big scores.
“We’ve got the Indians into three, four, five and six spells and it’s very hard playing back-to-back Test matches against a team where all the batters are in form.”
Although his side suffered another miserable day in the field, Sreesanth, who appeared to lose his cool to a degree in the final session, was surprisingly positive in his post-match reflections.
“That’s how cricket goes, they started scoring well and boundaries kept coming. That’s all that happened,” he said.
“In the first session there were not many runs scored, but I think after lunch they took charge again and credit to them. It was not really bad bowling, but they took charge and just kept going.”
“It’s a great learning experience and challenge to bowl to them. I enjoyed it, I kept running in hard.
“You can’t expect 83 all out, 150 all out or 230 all out in every single match, that’s why a Test is called a Test; it’s a Test of character and a Test of strength.”