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Pietersen saves England on Strauss's first day

February 05, 2009 08:00 IST

There was every side of Kevin Pietersen in his innings of 97 on the first day of the first Test against West Indies at Sabina Park on Wednesday.

There was talent and desire, there was application, skill and patience, and in the end there was a burst of spectacular hitting leading to a rash dismissal.

Pietersen has been in the headlines over the past month as a result of his bitter dispute with the former coach Peter Moores -- which led to his resignation and Moores' sacking -- and he was glad to be back to talking about runs rather than rows.

"I love scoring runs and I love playing for England," he said. "If someone had said to me a month ago when everything was kicking off in England that I'd get 97 today I would have said 'thank you very much'."

On the first day of Andrew Strauss's captaincy, Pietersen rescued England from a poor start of 94-4, built a classy innings and then threw away the chance of a century when he tried to hit Sulieman Benn for six having taken him for 14 in the previous three balls.

"It's the way I play, I got to 97 playing that way so it just wasn't meant to be. No drama," Pietersen said after England closed at 236-5.

In truth, though, Pietersen had played with an uncharacteristic caution on a slow track.

"On that wicket you have to play situations and I think that's what I've done over the last few years instead of going out there and being dominant," he said.

"I tried to be, but I wasn't as forceful as dominant as I could have been on that wicket. I don't like to block all day."

The days when West Indian wickets were rock hard and dangerous for batsmen facing a wave of short-pitched pace bowling have long since gone, but it was still an unusual sight to have two spinners in operation on the first day of a test.

"It was tricky, it's a tricky situation but then you come to the West Indies expecting a barrage so to be facing spin from both ends is not a bad thing," said Pietersen.

In Monty Panesar, England have a spin-bowling threat of their own and Pietersen expects him to have an influential role in the outcome of the test.

"Monty is going to play a huge role in the game," he said. "The way he has been bowling in the last couple weeks, the new Monty Panesar, it's all good signs.

"Monty is bowling fantastically well, in the last few weeks he has impressed me.

"He was under pressure in India and maybe over the last six months he hasn't bowled as well as he could do. But I've had some long chats with Monty and he's in a real good place which is great".

Scorecard

England (1st innings):
A Strauss c Ramdin b Taylor 7
A Cook c Sarwan b Powell 4
I Bell c Smith b Gayle 28
K Pietersen c Ramdin b Benn 97
P Collingwood lbw b Benn 16
A Flintoff not out 43
M Prior not out 27
Extras: (b-5, lb-2, nb-7) 14
Total: (five wickets, 88 overs) 236

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-31, 3-71, 4-94, 5-180

To bat: S.Broad, R.Sidebottom, S.Harmison, M.Panesar.

Bowling: Taylor 13-2-56-1 (3-nb); Edwards 10-1-43-0 (3-nb); Powell 14-5-31-1 (1-nb), S.Benn 33-10-64-2; C.Gayle 18-5-35-1.

West Indies: Chris Gayle (captain), Devon Smith, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Xavier Marshall, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Brendan Nash, Denesh Ramdin, Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell, Sulieman Benn, Fidel Edwards.

Source:
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