Dominant Pietersen steals show

Many words can be used to describe Kevin Pietersen and you can guarantee that “breathtaking” is one of the most appropriate ones. Pietersen today provided the Birmingham crowd with a magnificent 142 made in just 157 balls. Despite England’s lower order collapse, Matthew Hoggard and Monty Panesar both grabbed two wickets in the last session to keep England in the driving seat.

Pietersen resumed his innings this morning with nightwatchman Hoggard keeping him company, and it soon became clear what mood the swashbuckling Pietersen was in. He reached his 50 in just 54 balls. Hoggard hung around for a while, grafting for just one run before he was beaten by a Chaminda Vaas yorker.

New man Paul Collingwood got himself in and he and Pietersen put on 69 for the fifth wicket before Muttiah Muralitharan struck. The perpetually devastating spinner had Collingwood caught at short leg as he came down the wicket. This brought captain Andrew Flintoff to the crease, who never looked in. Flintoff scratched for 48 balls, scoring just 9. However, Pietersen carried on regardless, picking the gaps with ease and cantering to 100 in 115 balls.

With Pietersen in such a mood, Sri Lanka had to do something special to get themselves back in the game. As is usually the case, Muttiah Muralitharan provided that something special. He induced England’s lower order into collapsing – losing their last 5 wickets for only 5 runs. Murali trapped Pietersen lbw first. Flintoff followed soon after when the impressive but expensive Lasith Malinga got a full quick delivery straight through Flintoff’s defences. Murali then had Liam Plunkett caught by Vandort, having mistimed a pull shot. Geraint Jones, caught by Samaraweera, was next on Murali’s list of victims to complete his 8/86. Malinga finished up, getting last man Monty Panesar plumb lbw.

England would have been disappointed with a lead of only 154 having bowled Sri Lanka out for 141 first time round and reaching 290/5, but Matthew Hoggard had the perfect tonic for that in his first over. Hoggard, who has been exemplary in England colours for the last two years but is only just beginning to get the praise he deserves, pushed a ball across left handed opener Upul Tharanga, who edged to wicketkeeper Jones.

Sri Lanka’s frail top order was torn open yet again in the final session, but this time it was not the seamers who got all the wickets, but slow left armer Monty Panesar who claimed two. Kumar Sangakkara was caught by Paul Collingwood off Panesar before Hoggard struck again. Hoggard got captain Mahela Jayawrdene lbw. Panesar then took centre stage again. His sub-schoolgirl standard fielding has been grabbing the attention recently, but with the ball he is very promosing. Tossing one up to Samaraweera, who advanced, was beaten by the turn and stumped, Panesar claimed his second wicket to leave Sri Lanka in the mire at 56/4.

Dilshan and Vandort stabilised the innings somewhat, but still 68 runs behind and 4 wickets down already, they need a miracle to save them this time.

Sri Lanka 141 all out
Chaminda Vaas 30*, Tillakaratne Dilshan 27, Lasith Malinga 26
Liam Plunkett 3-43, Sajid Mahmood 2-25, Andrew Flintoff 2-28

England 295 all out
Kevin Pietersen 142, Andrew Strauss 30,
Muttiah Muralitharan 6-86, Lasith Malinga 2-68

Sri Lanka 86-4
Michael Vandort 30*, Tillakaratne Dilshan 21*
Matthew Hoggard 2-14, Monty Panesar 2-39

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Sean Bennett