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England v South Africa, 1st Test, Lord's, 1st day
David Lloyd: Pietersen lived up to his billing
July 10, 2008
England rose up to the challenge today, and Pietersen and Bell have put England in a commanding position
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'There was a little wobble in that mid-afternoon session but Pietersen increased the scoring rate' © Getty Images

Andrew Miller: A day that you couldn't have scripted - Kevin Pietersen has just scored his first Test hundred against his native country South Africa. David Lloyd, what an innings ...

David Lloyd: I thought he played beautifully. This series was eagerly anticipated after the New Zealand series. Everybody said that it would be a cracker, and it's lived up to it's billing today. From first thing this morning, Graeme Smith winning the toss and being completely duped by this pitch ... and so was Michael Vaughan; he wanted to bowl. He would be thrilled that England have batted.

There was a little wobble in that mid-afternoon session but Pietersen increased the scoring rate. I thought he played absolutely magnificently. When you think about where he is from, the opposition, and all the hype before this game started - it's Pietersen again who rises to the challenge, and it's been a thrilling innings and he has entertained the crowd. It's Pietersen the entertainer.

AM: Well, it was Pietersen the nervous starter to start with. Have you ever seen him quite so nervous at the start of his innings?

DL: I think, well, there were lot of nerves on both sides. I think South Africa should have bowled much better than they did this morning. There was a little bit there in this pitch, [but[ they bowled a poor line and poor length and England got to lunch unscathed, both openers still at the crease. And then you get the entrance of Pietersen after a clatter of wickets and South Africa very much with their tail up, showing us a little bit of this pace attack with Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.

But, he [Pietersen] got quickly into the stride and he found an ally in Ian Bell, and surprisingly when you look at the stats, when these two bat together it's not a great combination for England. Prior to this match their average partnership was 34. That's absolutely nothing to do with the way they bat, but they flowed today, they really did, and I wouldn't say that they took the attack to South Africa. They played with a great amount of know how and skill, a lot of skill came into it. I will have to say, and I know people in South Africa won't like me for this, there is always a plan A but there is never a plan B.

AM: That plan A might have come into fruition had that shy from Makhaya Ntini hit the stumps, Pietersen setting off for a single and he would have run himself out off the second ball.

DL: Yes, he wants a single and we have seen it before. He just wants to get off the mark and he plays his percentages. Hit and run, and I am going to get in. If he had hit, Ntini, then he would have been out by a meter and a half. He stayed in, got away with it ... Pietersen scores a hundred and the script is all there.

AM: Let's talk more about Ian Bell, because as Pietersen took a little bit of time to get into his stride, Bell absolutely flew off the blocks and he is the man under pressure, isn't he?

DL: I think they forgot all about him. All the talk was Pietersen, although they were pretty quiet, South Africa, towards Kevin Pietersen. But Bell just slipped in from the back door. He was 32 from 33 deliveries, and suddenly [they realised] that this is the guy who is under pressure, and if he doesn't do too well in the first too matches then he is out of the team. The partnership was excellent, Bell started so well and then he went back into his shell. I was just worried about him a little while, whether he can come through and battle through. Once again he got a fifty, and the partnership is everything that you talk about in the dressing room - not sixties and seventies, but if you get in then don't get out.

AM: A sense being forgotten about, something that suits Ian Bell quite nicely, just being the second fiddle in the partnership.

DL: I agree with that, and there are all sorts of stats knocking around - whether they are fair or unfair, but the stats are there. Ian Bell doesn't get though runs, is what people are saying about him now. You can only play, he has got to put that out of his mind and play against a decent attack here. I think it's a bit premature to say that South Africa is the new West Indies. Of what we have seen today, no they are not, unless you are talking about Tino Best. No, they have got a long way to go, but both the new guys, the big shots if you like, Morkel and Steyn have never played at Lord's and I think that really showed today.

AM: Of course they didn't get a chance to practice on the slope either because of the torrential rain that we have had in the last few day. How much of an issue do you think that would have been for them?

DL: I think it's a massive issue that they did not practice and find out which end suits who. The size of these guys, particularly Morkel, 6 foot 5, he is a big unit and the slope will move you into the stumps or away from the stumps depending on which end you are bowling from. I think you've got to be content with that, and to find out and work out a system. So I should think that it has really hampered them in the preparation, particularly the two main men if you like. And what I would like to add to it all, the one who would have bowled exceptionally well is Shaun Pollock, who is commentating.

AM: So there we go - England in command at the end of the first day, but it's going to be a fantastic series

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Posted by anand on (July 11, 2008, 8:07 GMT)

piti was really superb but i did not have him in my fantasy team i am very disappointed now he is a master player england played really well

Posted by ranganathan on (July 10, 2008, 22:57 GMT)

Congrats and a great innings from Kevin. He is the number one in the world cricket currently and wish him all success.

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