Thursday 23 November 2017

Bell and Pietersen help England dominate


David Clough

Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen piled up twin hundreds in a record triple-century stand as England showed India no mercy on day two of the fourth Test at The Oval.

England's third-wicket pair dominated India in a partnership of 350 as a benign surface made life comfortable for the hosts.

Shantha Sreesanth did his best to generate an illusion of competitiveness, with a series of vain attempts to engage Pietersen verbally.

But after the early loss of both Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook for the addition of only two runs between them, there was rarely even a semblance of a true contest between bat and ball in a 457-3 total, with Bell and Pietersen posting England's record stand for any wicket against India.

Bell (181 not out) and Pietersen (175) made the most of easy pickings on their way, respectively, to and well beyond their 16th and 19th Test centuries. Bell's was his first on this ground, but fifth in 11 innings of a prolific 2011. Pietersen moved level with Strauss and Cook's career tallies -- joint-third on England's all-time list.

Pietersen typically used his unique reach and footwork to disrupt India's lines -- whipping to leg or smearing off-side width among his 27 fours in a 232-ball innings. He completed his hundred with a resounding pull from the first ball after tea from Ishant Sharma. Pietersen and Bell had bagged 170 unbeaten runs from 38 overs in an extended second session as they took England's number of century partnerships in the series to nine.

Pietersen had one close call on 18 when a glance at Sharma fell just short of leg-slip from the final ball of the morning. But other than Gautam Gambhir's early evening miscalculation, that was as close as they would ever get to interrupting the inevitable.

Fourth Test, England v India,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 11.0

Irish Independent

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