Pietersen cracks ton in thrilling tie
Sussex 240 for 8 (Goodwin 81, Dernbach 3-44) tied with Surrey 240 (Pietersen 116, Kirtley 3-61)
Kevin Pietersen's rehabilitation in county cricket seems to be paying off after he made his first hundred in any format for 18 months as Surrey tied a thrilling Clydesdale Bank 40 clash with Sussex Sharks. Pietersen, who is finishing the season by playing four games in a two-week loan spell at Surrey after he was dropped from England's one-day squad, made 116 in front of a crowd of around 5,000 at Hove.
It was Pietersen's first domestic one-day hundred for seven years and he never looked in any trouble even though the Sussex attack contained three players with Test experience. He came in to face the fifth ball of the innings after Surrey skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown had holed out to deep square leg after hitting the first three balls from James Kirtley for four.
Pietersen shared a second-wicket stand of 105 in 17 overs with Jason Roy although it was the youngster who played more aggressively, making a one-day best 60 off 49 balls with seven fours and a six before he was bowled by Monty Panesar. Apart from those two, nobody in the Surrey side scored more than 18 and Pietersen had to watch a succession of wickets fall at the other end, one of which was his responsibility.
In the 20th over he took a very risky single after pushing the ball into the off side and Gary Wilson was left well short of his ground as Joe Gatting ran in from cover and broke the stumps. Stewart Walters was also run out for a duck, although Pietersen could not be blamed on that occasion as he rightly turned down his partner's call for a single and Walters was again beaten by Gatting's sharp reflexes.
Pietersen took 55 balls for his first 50 runs but just 46 for the next 50 and although he played well within himself there were moments when the confidence and class which seemed to have deserted him this summer returned.
He struck eight fours and six sixes, four of them off offspinner Ollie Rayner, and after reaching his hundred with a single in the 37th over he twice cleared the rope in the next over off successive Kirtley deliveries, the first crunched with brutal power through extra cover followed by a straight hit down the ground.
But Kirtley, playing his final game before retiring after 16 years with Sussex, had his revenge when he yorked Pietersen with the next ball, his 116 coming from 105 balls. Kirtley finished with 3 for 61 as Surrey were dismissed for 240.
Matt Prior, like Pietersen surplus to requirements in England's one-day side, played aggressively until he mis-timed a drive and fell for 19 but acting captain Murray Goodwin and Chris Nash kept Sussex in touch.
Nash made 53 off 46 balls, his fifth half-century in the competition this season, and Goodwin 81 from 76 but it was Rayner who levelled the scores when he hit the last ball of the match from Tim Linley down the ground for four as Sussex finished on 240 for 8, with Rayner unbeaten on 35.