Pietersen happy with improved display
Kevin Pietersen’s search goes on for a first Test hundred since March last year - but he could reflect with justified satisfaction on his 80 out of 251 all out for England.
England’s mercurial number four needed plenty of luck to keep his team in control of the second npower Test on an awkward Edgbaston pitch.
He survived four dropped chances, and a bizarre dead ball incident in which he hit a simple catch to mid-off after pulling out of his stance, in a laboured 147-ball innings.
But Pietersen, who shared a stand of 133 with Jonathan Trott (55), was the main reason England closed day two with a lead of 160 against a Pakistan team who look set for another wide-margin defeat after struggling to 19 for one in their second innings.
For the South Africa-born batsman, there was a sense of relief too at making a major contribution again - especially after England had collapsed to Saeed Ajmal (5-82), losing their last five wickets for eight runs.
Pietersen recalled his tribulations, including a major Achilles ankle operation, since being sacked as captain in January 2009.
“You go from captaining the team to being one of the men again,” he said.
“Being told what to do all day every day is something that was hard, in the way that everything happened 18 months ago.
“Then I got injured and had a bad tour of South Africa - I was playing really badly there - so it’s not been ideal, the last 18 months.
“Obviously I haven’t been scoring the big hundreds I did in the first 50 odd Tests. But it’s not as if I haven’t been scoring runs.
“It’s a case of getting back to the drawing board and keep working just as hard when things are tough - because just around the corner, there’s a new knock.”
Pietersen needed plenty of determination today, as well as fortune.
He added: “It wasn’t my most fluent of knocks. But in terms of the situation of the game, it was one I’m pretty pleased with.
“The wicket was two-paced, and occasionally the ball would nip - which made it really hard. It was one of those real grafting wickets.
“The last two wickets have been extremely tough. I haven’t played on two tougher in my career in Test match cricket.
“I obviously rode my luck - on that wicket, you’ve got to.
“We had to do that, and we hope we’re in position now to do something really good on day three.”
Pietersen was also able to explain his version of events in the dead ball controversy, which appeared to antagonise catcher and Pakistan captain Salman Butt but by tonight was apparently no longer such a vexed issue.
It was Trott’s movements at the non-striker’s end which put Pietersen off in the first place.
“Trotty walked in from a wide-ish mid-off position,” he said.
“He said he was swatting away flies or bees - there were a lot of them out there today - and he walked in at a brisk pace across the wicket. I thought he was going to walk straight across, so I pulled away.
“The umpire shouted dead ball, but the ball sort of followed me. Instinctively, I played at it - I probably shouldn’t have, and I apologise if I caused any issues out of it.
“They obviously appealed. But it was a dead ball call before - and if the shoe was on the other foot we would have got on with the game. I think everybody moved on pretty quickly.”
Butt agreed: “I’ve been told by the umpire that he called it before the actual shot was played, so it becomes not out that way.”
Butt had to contend with a string of other disappointments as Pakistan once again did not help themselves with yet more missed catches - and then pace bowler Umar Gul suffered a hamstring injury which seems sure to rule him out of the remainder of this match, at least.
“It seemed like a case of nothing going your way,” he said.
“When you have a bad day, there’s not much you can do - just laugh about it and at the same time keep on trying harder.
“I think all the luck was with KP today (laughing).
“But if we do well in the second innings, this match is still on.”