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Pietersen anchors England as India miss Zaheer

Desk Report: Kevin Pietersen’s unbeaten century was the cornerstone of England’s 305 for five against India at tea on the second day of the first Test at Lord’s here on Friday.

South Africa-born Pietersen was 115 not out at the interval having scored his 18th century in 75 Tests but only his second in 37 innings.

Matt Prior was unbeaten on 21.

But seamer Praveen Kumar, leading an attack depleted by the hamstring strain suffered by left-arm quick Zaheer Khan on Thursday, ensured England did not run away with the match thanks to a return of three for 85 in 34.3 overs — including two wickets for no runs in four balls.

England started the second session on 217 for three, with Pietersen 71 not out and Ian Bell 28 not out.

There was a surprise as India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni emerged having handed the wicketkeeping duties to Rahul Dravid, who used to be behind the stumps in one-day internationals.

Dhoni made his move as Zaheer remained in the dressing room, where he’d been since a hamstring strain forced him off the field midway through his 14th over on Thursday.

Now Dhoni bowled his deceptively useful medium-pacers ahead of the new ball and celebrated when he had Pietersen ‘caught’ by Dravid for 73.

Billy Bowden gave Pietersen out but the batsman immediately called for a review, and with Hot Spot technology showing no edge the New Zealand umpire revered his original verdict.

India took the new ball with England 246 for three off 87 overs, with Dhoni, after bowling five overs for 20 runs, reverting to keeping wicket.

The 31-year-old Pietersen though completed a 216-ball hundred, his fourth against India and fifth at Lord’s, when he on-drove Ishant in style for his 10th boundary.

But Kumar dimissed Bell for 45 with a beauty that nipped off the seam to take the edge, Dhoni’s low diving catch completing the dismissal.

That ended a a stand of 110 and 270 for four became 270 for five when the same combination got rid of Eoin Morgan for a duck.

Dhoni gave himself a second bowling stint but to no avail.

England had resumed Friday on 127 for two after Zaheer had removed openers Alastair Cook and captain Andrew Strauss before breaking down.

Jonathan Trott was 58 not out and Pietersen 22 not out.

But persevering medium-pacer Kumar was rewarded for his accuracy when Trott, aiming across the line, was lbw for 70 to end a stand of 98 that left England 160 for three.

Pietersen, on 49, almost fell into a well-set trap when he glanced Kumar towards Dravid in the rarely used position of leg-slip.

But Pietersen stood his ground and, after the umpires consulted replays which proved inconclusive, he was reprieved.

This match is the 2,000th Test of all-time and the 100th between England and India.

If England win this four-match series by two Tests they will replace India at the top of the Test rankings

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