India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day

Pietersen justifies his reintegration

By demonstrating talents that none of his colleagues posses, Kevin Pietersen proved why his return to the England team was necessary

George Dobell in Mumbai

November 24, 2012

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Alastair Cook acknowledges another half-century, India v England, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 2nd day, November 24, 2012
Alastair Cook has achieved a great deal and is only 27 © BCCI

If anyone required a reminder of the considerable attributes of Kevin Pietersen, they were provided an adequate recap on the second day in Mumbai.

This innings showed why Pietersen had to be "reintegrated" into the England team. On a pitch on which all other batsmen have struggled to lift their strike-rate above 50 runs per 100 balls, Pietersen compiled a half-century from just 63 deliveries and contributed 62 of an unbroken partnership of 110 with Alastair Cook that has earned England a decent foothold in an increasingly intriguing game. His talent is precious and rare. It was surely right that England found a way through the tangled debris of the summer fallout and returned him to the international stage where he belongs.

When Pietersen walked to the crease, England had just lost two wickets for two runs and were in danger of folding once again against an energised spin attack that sensed blood. But Pietersen drove his first ball, a friendly half-volley well outside off stump, for four and, used his reach, strength and confidence to create scoring opportunities that none of his colleagues could replicate. The result was to ease the pressure on Cook and transfer it, partially at least, to the opposition bowlers.

That first ball to Pietersen was surely significant. Confidence is key to Pietersen's batting and, at his best, he struts, poses and revels in the spot light. But, in Ahmedabad, he appeared nervous, diffident and as if he had lost belief in his own extravagant abilities. Here, the loose delivery offered by Harbhajan Singh allowed Pietersen to settle quickly and show the confident character that can intimidate bowlers. By showing a willingness to come down the pitch, he persuaded Harbhajan to drop short and, against the left-arm spin of Pragyan Ojha - supposedly his nemesis - Pietersen appeared reassuringly positive in defence and attack.

This was England's best day of the series to date. While that is not a particularly competitive category, it should encourage England that they have, arguably, had the better of five out of six sessions in this game. They made life desperately hard for themselves by losing so limply in the first Test, but have shown some character in bouncing back.

Their spinners lost little in comparison to India's. While both sets have found turn, it is England's - and Monty Panesar in particular - who has found the more unsettling bounce. While it is unlikely to provoke a rethink of the pitches that India will desire in this series, it was a reminder that England, with two high-class spinners of their own, are not without weapons in such conditions. India lost 9 for 199 against Graeme Swann and Panesar and only progressed at two-and-a-half an over.

Asked to open in alien conditions against a talented spin attack, he has demonstrated an admirably unflustered temperament. An assured start to Nick Compton's Test career

But it was Cook who again did more than anyone to wrestle England into a decent position. England's captain may never become a great orator or a tactical genius, but such qualities are often overrated. If leadership is judged more in terms of inspiring by example and shaping the team's fortunes through individual performance, then Cook must rate very highly indeed. He is on the cusp of his 22nd Test century, which would equal the most by an Englishman, and within sight of his 7,000th Test run. To have achieved so much before the age of 28 is remarkable.

He continues to develop, too. Several times in his career, he has been confronted by obstacles that could have derailed his progress but, on each occasion, he has found a way to overcome them. There were his problems outside off stump; his struggle to show his worth as a limited-overs batsman and, for a while, doubts over his ability to deal with spin. Yet through hard work, determination and a deep faith in his own ability, he has developed a method that allowed him to succeed.

His improvement against spin is enormous. Here he showed a new willingness to come down the wicket - once striking Ojha for a sweetly-timed six - and employed the sweep noticeably more often than he has in the past.

Nick Compton impressed, too. The scores do not yet show it but Compton has made an assured start to his Test career. Asked not just to open the batting - he has been batting at No. 3 in domestic cricket for the last few seasons - but to open in alien conditions and against a talented spin attack, he has demonstrated an admirably unflustered temperament. He is not blessed with the scoring options of one or two of his colleagues but that need not overly concern him. What England require from him is a solid foundation and, to date, he has delivered.

Jonathan Trott experienced a less happy day. Having reflected on his second innings dismissal at Ahmedabad, drawn forward and beaten by a beauty that turned and took the edge of his bat, he reasoned that playing back may offer a greater chance of dealing with the spin. But it was not to be and his dismissal, caught on the crease playing slightly across the line, was ugly. By Trott's standards his run of form is poor - he has passed 50 only twice since the start of the South Africa series and has suffered two ducks and two other scores below 20 in his last five Test innings - but he has surely earned the right to a little patience.

England still face a considerable challenge. They trail by149 and, of the remaining batsmen, Jonny Bairstow and Samit Patel are unproven in these conditions and the tail, in the absence of Tim Bresnan, is a little longer. Batting fourth could prove especially demanding, so a first innings lead is required if England are not to leave themselves too much to do.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by JG2704 on (November 25, 2012, 18:18 GMT)

@ Lmaotsetung on (November 25 2012, 11:48 AM GMT) Know what you're saying. I don't know what went on behind closed doors etc so can't comment on how KP was treated etc but my inclination is that he's lucky to be back on board. However , if he's learnt his lessons for whatever he's supposed to have done and he's getting on well with his teammates then I'm very happy with that. What Tevez did at Man City was far worse and he seems to have been forgiven and now seems happy and playing good football again

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (November 25, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

I know that after today's knock all the KP fanboys will out in full force. As an ardent England fan, I am one who still believe KP should not have been back. No professional sportsman should need any type of motivation to bring his best to the field and KP squarely falls in that category. Now that Strauss is retired the race to most test century by an English batsman is down to 2 men...Cook and KP...the latter knows what's at stake and so we see KP the genius today. How can someone who batted so brilliantly today look so out of touch a week ago on a pitch that was 10x easier to bat on? Give me 11 Alastair Cook where I know what I'll get instead of the Jeckyl and Hide that is Kevin Pietersen.

Posted by Flash007 on (November 25, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

Kevin Pietersen is simply the greatest batsman of his era. He has played the best attacks in all kind of tricky pitches and scored runs big. And scored he has by dominating attacks which is the hallmark of great players. Take a bow KP!!!

Posted by JG2704 on (November 25, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

re the team unity - think it was in the 1st match and I'm not sure if I was seeing things - but it looked the case that when Swann took one of the wickets KP was the 1st over to congratulate him

Posted by   on (November 25, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

Well done KP. You have to be consistent throughout rest of the tour.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 25, 2012, 1:08 GMT)

As much as he could go on to win the series for India, I really hope that Pujara has not sustained a serious injury in the field that would keep him out of this game or the rest of the series. Victory is victory but it would feel a bit hollow if India lost their best-performing batsman at this point. While I don't wish injury on anyone, it's good to see Cook not taking a backward step. There has always been a lot of talk about his limitations but, after finding a way to prosper playing within those limitations, he is now finding ways to overcome the limitations altogether, adding more and more strings to his bow and becoming a more and more complete batsman. At this rate, he really could finish his career as one of the greats. He probably will never be the most entertaining batsman to watch but he's been England's best-performing batsman for a while now and captaincy seems to agree with him too, so here's hoping his rise and rise continues.

Posted by Alexk400 on (November 25, 2012, 0:28 GMT)

Where was yuvi when kP came first? Dhoni captaincy is flawed. People sometime credit his "LUCK" too much?. Bhajji is useless in spinning pitch. He do not even spin the ball now...he is spinner with with no spin.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (November 25, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

Conditions still very much in India's favour. One wicket brings a couple on these sort of pitches, especially one so poor against spin. I think the indian supporters are getting a bit too pessimistic. They're at home and have no doubt been put under pressure before at home, but history shows they have still been able to draw or win. Have faith. Let us english go over the top with worrying and pessimism.

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 23:04 GMT)

Patel or Broad? Well, Patel has taken a wicket while conceding 3.07 run per over while bowling five more. At least Patel has offered Cook some measure of control. Apart from headaches, it's unclear what, if anything, Broad has given his captain. As an example, Patel conceded six from four in India's first innings while Broad gave away 60 from twelve. It's just not good enough from someone named vice captain. If at the end of this test this lamentable state of affairs persist, Broad should be axed and sent home to earn his selection by displays of continued excellence on the county circuit.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (November 24, 2012, 22:13 GMT)

I believe that the England dressing room is a better place than it has been for some time. Swann has publicly expressed his appreciation of KP's skills & application today - and from that we can take it that the healing process is well underway (I see Swann as a type of shop-steward for some reason). In retrospect, the Ahmadabad defeat may turn out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise: the insanity of going into a Test in India with only one spinner; the run-before-walking of KP's inns; the later examples of Cook & Prior - mentors to the team overall - all of this has not been lost, judging from the performances in Mumbai to date. Now, it's a case of steady as she goes. Things are not yet as good as they could be, but if a side has six of eleven players performing, they will normally carry the day for their side. So far, that number is four. Who else is going to turn up at this rehab. party? I want to know! That's why I'm up at four a.m.!

Posted by Nampally on (November 24, 2012, 21:42 GMT)

@rahulcricket007: A pessimistic 007 , Eh?. I agree with you that Dhoni's captaincy was poor. KP is weak against LH bowlers & particularly the spinners. Ojha got him twice & Yuvi got him once. Today Yuvi did not bowl a single ball out of 65 overs bowled! ZAK was not allowed to use the new ball + bowled just 8 overs! This is illogical captaincy. Not only that, risking India's best batsmen fielding in a suicidal position may have knocked him out for the rest of the test series with cracked ribs too. Unless Dhoni implements plans for each batsman by attacking his weaknesses, England will take the first innings lead. So far his bowling changes & field placing were irrational. He has 4 spinners at his disposal +ZAK. Intelligent use of his bowlers will help India not his personal interest in Harbhajan who is a shadow of the bowler once he was. Sehwag is a better off spinner than Bhaji. Use ZAK with the new ball + Don't hide Yuvraj.Indian bowling is strong if used smartly to get batsmen OUT!

Posted by JG2704 on (November 24, 2012, 21:13 GMT)

@rs789 on (November 24 2012, 17:50 PM GMT) TBH , Trott looked like a walking wicket anyway. Zaheer can feel more aggrieved with his dismissal

@yorkshire-86 on (November 24 2012, 19:25 PM GMT) To be fair to Patel he is not a frontline spin bowler and should be judged , if not on his batting alone then his batting primarily. To judge him on his bowling would be like judging Broad,Bres or Swann on their batting. Patel was harshly given out twice in the 1st test and has not batted yet in the 2nd test. While I too am not convinced by Patel as a batsmen , I'm certainly no more convinced by Broad as a bowler

Posted by yorkshire-86 on (November 24, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

The big question mark is Patel, not Broad. Even as bad as Broad bowled, his captain trusted him more with the ball than Patel, who is supposedly a 'spinner', on a turning pitch. Playing with Patel is like playing with ten men. Broad is better with the bat too. And please dont quote those 'warm up' games before the series, the Indian board probably, as well as instructing the teams to bowl no spin, told them to bowl half trackers and long hops to Patel to ensure his selection and therefore a weak England team too to the field in the first Test.

Posted by mikey76 on (November 24, 2012, 19:12 GMT)

I think the Indian guys on here are getting a bit pessimistic early. If Cook or KP goes early tomorrow then we will struggle to even get parity. The match and the whole series will be decided tomorrow morning. If we can rub off the deficit with say six wickets in hand then we are very much in the box seat.

Posted by Hash_Tag on (November 24, 2012, 17:53 GMT)

@rahulcricket007 - yes you are right. Also remember that Swann took 5 wickets in first test on glassy smooth batsman friendly pitch (which then disintergrated). Many fans were saying before this series how overrated Swann is (Monty Panesar as well). They are not saying this now. England problem is not bowling - England problem is batting and this pitch looks to me like a minefield. It will be a remarkable achievement if England go past Indias first innings score. It is a disgrace that England picked 9 wickets with spin in the first 4 sessions on what is supposed to be a test standard pitch. Even so, Cook is going beyond good here. He is truly an outstanding batsman in all conditions, not just in Australia. If Pietersen does anything it will be a bonus to watch. He has done well and he owes England big time. On the other hand, England set up easy winning positions in 2 of the 3 tests against Pakistan in UAE and then managed to blow it spectacularly. India still well ahead in this game.

Posted by rs789 on (November 24, 2012, 17:50 GMT)

Trott was unlucky to be given out. Slow motion replays of his lbw dismissal clearly show an inside edge, as confirmed by the report at the ecb site (see "Cook and Pietersen prosper" by Rob Barnett). I am a bit surprised that the TV commentators and circinfo missed this.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (November 24, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

Greatness always justifies reintegration. On the face of it England look quite together as a team. The spinners are doing plenty to keep England in touch, and bowled well in tandem. The other side of the equation is far harder for us but Cook can obviously play spin and if KP is getting it back then we will be in this series meaningfully. Hell he was the first Englishman to run the rule of Warne and Warne ain't playing here, so there has to be some cause for optimism. Trott is on one( a trot.) it had to happen and the reverse will too.His 100 in Galle was no fluke.-nothing ever is with Trott, but the result of clarity and logic. Dare one hope for a lead? Well,possibly.

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 15:17 GMT)

I like Broad in general but with his short, old fashioned fast bowlers fuse, I'd play someone else. I'd actually be tempted to try Meaker. Surry fans will know he bowls full and fast and swings the ball. By fast I mean 92mph. Either that or play Onions. Finn I wouln't risk. Meenwhile, KP and Cook showing why they're probably two of the best ever English batsmen in the modern era. Pure class and grit and showing that playing in India is fine, once you know how. Please guys, go for it!

Posted by jmcilhinney on (November 24, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

Throughout the whole saga, I was prepared to see KP exit altogether if it was deemed necessary but, all else being equal, my preference was to see him back in the side and playing just like he did today. He really is amazing when he's on song. My admiration for Cook is growing by the session. He's not flamboyant in any aspect but he just does the job that needs doing. His good sense appears to be one of the main reasons KP is on this tour and their respect for their captain will just make the other players try that bit harder to make KP's reintegration work. I like the fact that, when KP came in and started scoring quickly, it didn't take Cook long to up his scoring rate in order to ensure that the bowlers were under pressure the whole time. I think that he was actually scoring faster than KP there for a while. Compton is doing a fine job but the dour start to the innings is an indication of why England would benefit by having someone like Root at the top, if he matures as we hope.

Posted by Long-Leg on (November 24, 2012, 15:02 GMT)

@rahulcricket007: "... if poms make 500." I think you may be panicking prematurely. I have been watching England for nearly 40 years and I can assure you that we will get nowhere near 500 and are quite capable of losing from any position. I don't think our batsmen are better than yours though I agree with you that our spinners are. This is a fascinating game of test cricket.

Posted by Akshita29 on (November 24, 2012, 15:02 GMT)

I think england should replace Broad with a batsman like Morgan or Bell and kp, trott and patel should bowl more overs if pitch like this is on offer again. Or they should call in somebody like Woakes .

Posted by Akshita29 on (November 24, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

@Rahulcricket007 I agree with you . India could still win the match easily but it's the way English players are fighting thats makes me sad remembering the way India played in Eng and Aus . As for Sachin he is eyeing a new record that is 200 tests. On the other hand ponting knows that if he can't score in the next match in Perth , he would be dropped and kicked out of the team . Sachin on the other hand can't be dropped . Best thing Dhoni has done is winning the toss so far. Had he lost the toss the story could have been different alltogether. As it stands I would still back India to win this match . But real fightback by England and good to see Kp back in some form .

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

rahulcricket 007 puji is an expert at short leg. i am amazed that u could even bring up the argument of having sachin on short fine.

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

Agree with Henrik, surely time to rest Broad. Assuming Finn gets fit, he must play in third Test. And even if not fit, then I'd play Onions ahead of Broad.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (November 24, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

What was the need to field Pujara at short leg,Cook whacked him,we need Pujara to save the test match in 2nd inns if poms make 500.Instead Sachin should have been asked to field at short leg,even if he got injured it wouldn't make a difference,for the past 23 years he's been fielding in positions where the ball hardly arrives.Look at Ponting,he's the senior most player in the team still he fields at short leg to the spinners and Alastair Cook inspite of being the captain fields at short leg too.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (November 24, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

The Indians getting the taste of their own medicine (pitch). The English spinners has proven to be better no doubt.well Played England on turning Track.....................

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (November 24, 2012, 13:06 GMT)

Team England have demonstrated better batting, as compared to Team India. Indian batting order, said to be strong, on papers, was struggling, whereas on the same field English batsmen were batting with better stroke and skill, whereas in England and Australia, Team India failed miserably, just surrendered. Except Pujara and Ashwin , no one else fared well. English Team captain is leading their team from the front.. Indian bowling has been below par. Why Dhoni did not using Yuvraj and Sehwag as bowler? In case England are able to establish a lead, it is quite likely we may lose this Test match.

Posted by   on (November 24, 2012, 13:04 GMT)

The difference between the two sides this far is Stuart Broad. He has haemorrhaged 157 runs from a scant 36 overs without taking a wicket. Nor has he impressed with the bat and he is yet to take a catch. Just send him home! England can't afford the luxury of a vice captain who neither bats nor bowls and is a liability on and off the field.

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