Strauss able to declare after India’s depleted attack made to suffer
Close: First Test, day two, Lord’s
Match score: India 17-0 (Mukund 8*, Gambhir 7*) trail England 474-8 dec (Pietersen 202*, Prior 71, Trott 70; Kumar 5-106) by 457 runs Full scorecard
Session score: England 169-3, India 17-0 England win
Kevin Pietersen has rarely, if ever, been referred to as an anchor except as a form of rhyming slang.
And there still seemed to be pockets of Lord’s that did not warm to an innings of value and substance. When he reached 150 with a flick to deep backward square leg that only he can play, 99% of the ground stood in appreciation but there were still some MCC members who, despite being awake, sat impassively not bothering to applaud.
His presence in the England side has been a constant source of debate ever since he made his debut in 2005. Whether it’s about his South Africanness or, more recently, his poor form there has never been, and may never be, universal love for KP.
He spent a long time in first gear and he had some scrapes along the way but his patience was rewarded as was the crowd’s.
“He’s almost in full flow,” Nick Knight said on Sky. Pietersen had 173 at the time. That was an indicator of how untypical the innings had been. It had been his slowest Test fifty, off 134 balls, and his slowest Test hundred, off 216 balls, 22 more than his century at Hamilton in 2008.
Joined by Matt Prior, who played another unfussy but highly watchable Lord’s cameos, the tempo started to pick up. And as the evening shadows lengthened and the Indian fielders fled to the boundary, Pietersen was alone on the stage. It was some curtain call. He launched the off-spin of Suresh Raina into the pavilion sightscreen, slapped him down the ground for two more and cut him through extra cover to bring up his double hundred.
At the point, the entire ground stood, even the previously recalcitrant members, and England declared. KP departed, stopping as ever to face the crowd arms aloft before disappearing into the pavilion.
There were key moments of fortune for Pietersen. On 49 he appeared to have been caught low by Rahul Dravid at leg slip off Praveen Kumar but he escaped after the umpires referred to the TV replays. Surprisingly, given their recent conduct in West Indies, the Indians took the decision with good grace.
Later, in a terrific piece of Lord’s theatre, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, having passed the keeping gloves to Dravid, thought he had Pietersen caught behind off his medium pace. But Pietersen reviewed and there was no edge. Surely it was his day. And it was.
It was also Kumar’s. He became the 12th Indian to take five wickets in a Test innings at Lord’s and his ability to swing the ball both ways was just as awe-inspiring as Pietersen lashing out at the end of his innings.
Kumar was barely bowling at 80mph but his wrist strength looks phenomenal and his lengths were an improvement on yesterday when he swung the ball too big and too early.
England’s declaration left India a testing evening period to survive which they managed, just. Abhinav Mukund might have been leg before to a Chris Tremlett no-ball in the final over but we will never know.
The weather has improved and that normally makes Lord’s easier for batting. England are on top but they should not expect easy wickets.
Shot of the day: Pietersen’s whipped straight drive, with essence of flamingo, off Ishant Sharma that took him past 158, his previous highest score at Lord’s.
Ball of the day: Kumar’s hooping inswinger that beat Ian Bell and hit him on the inside of his right thigh.
The if-you-want-something-doing-properly moment of the day: Dhoni, not content with being wicketkeeper and captain, bowled eight overs in two spells with his unthreatening medium-pace.
Celebrity of the day: Singer Lily Allen reacquainting herself with the Test Match Special
Commentary of the day: David Lloyd on Kumar: “He’s got a Michelle.” (Pfeiffer = five-for)
John Stern is a former editor of The Cricketer
Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_John