HomeSportCricketEngland’s Pietersen defies switch-hit row to stun Sri Lanka

England’s Pietersen defies switch-hit row to stun Sri Lanka

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COLOMBO — Kevin Pietersen put England in firm control of the second cricket Test against Sri Lanka with a sparkling 151 yesterday.

He shrugged off a warning for time-wasting, after attempting a switch-hit, to hit the highest score by an Englishman in Sri Lanka. Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott gave Pietersen the platform to blast the tourists into a 185-run lead with scores of 94 and 64 respectively.

Sri Lanka had to face the final over of the day, which they saw out unscathed.

“I thought we had a splendid day of cricket. I think most of us thought this would be a slow attritional match on a slow, low pitch, but it changed completely. Cook and Trott laid the platform, but we didn’t expect Pietersen to come and bat like he did. At times it was explosive and he didn’t play any false shots until he got to 100. Most of his batting was exceptionally good.”

As dominant as England’s batting performance was, Pietersen’s warning became the biggest talking point of the day.

He had already used the switch-hit to score one boundary when he got into position to do it again later in his innings, only to see bowler Tillakaratne Dilshan refuse to deliver the ball twice.

Umpire Asad Rauf warned Pietersen for time-wasting, to re-open the argument regarding the legitimacy of the shot, but it failed to knock the Surrey star from his stride. After an early scare, when he looped a chance over the despairing dive of short-leg fielder Lahiru Thirimanne, Pietersen plundered four sixes and 11 fours on his way to his 20th Test century from only 109 balls. He was particularly dismissive of Suraj Randiv, taking 15 runs from one of the spinner’s overs.

Pietersen’s previous highest score in four Tests on a difficult winter was 32 and the 31-year-old’s relief was visible upon bringing up three figures.

There was certainly little sign of the fireworks to come while Cook and Trott were building on the solid foundations put in place on the second day. The duo were watchful in the first session — happy to dampen down any early enthusiasm from the Sri Lankan bowlers.

Typical of the resolute pair, there were very few alarms until the hosts used up both of their reviews in quick succession.

Cook was given not out when misjudging a sweep, the third umpire could find no conclusive evidence the opener had gloved the ball to leg slip, while it was proved Trott had got an inside edge to an lbw shout. Just as Cook was beginning to settle into a more free-scoring rhythm, he was caught at slip off the bowling of Dilshan six runs short of his century.

When Trott was also caught by Mahela Jayawardene, the hosts sensed an opening.

However, alongside the more sedate Ian Bell, Pietersen wrestled back the initiative with a supreme display of hitting.

But if Pietersen banished his recent difficulties with some brilliant strokeplay, Bell gave his wicket away once again when he pulled a long hop to mid-wicket for 18. —BBC Sport

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