India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 1st day December 13, 2012

Toughest pitch I've played on - Pietersen


Kevin Pietersen described the Nagpur pitch as "the toughest I have played Test cricket on" after the first day of the final Test against India.

Pietersen top-scored for England with 73 out of 199 for 5 but, on a day when England were unable to score off 483 of the day's 582 deliveries, Pietersen admitted that the slow pace of the pitch had made batting a real struggle. He remained confident that England were well-placed in the game, however, suggesting the balance of their attack - with two seamers and two spinners - would prove crucial over the remainder of the game.

India utilised four spinners on the first day, but the only seamer in their side, Ishant Sharma, was by far the most dangerous of the bowlers and dismissed both England openers, Nick Compton and Alastair Cook.

"It is tough and it is the toughest wicket I have played Test cricket on in terms of trying to play strokes," Pietersen said. "I think we have done okay at 200 for 5 but what the wicket is going to do from now on, I haven't got a clue because it looks pretty similar to what it did when we started the day. The key today was to try and bat for as long as possible because I don't think that wicket is getting any better.

"My guess is as good as anyone's in this room as to what that wicket is going to do. I don't know, but goodness, it is slow.

"I think we are in a position of strength, having two seamers. I found Ishant Sharma incredibly difficult to play today. All I know is that scoring was incredibly hard, especially against Ishant, so we hope Tim Bresnan and Jimmy Anderson can do us a really good job."

Pietersen was also impressed by the performance of Joe Root. The 21-year-old, winning his first Test cap, reacted to challenging circumstances with a composed innings that revived England's hopes of setting a competitive first innings total. England slipped to 139 for 5 not long after Root came to the crease, but did not lose another wicket for the rest of the day as he and Matt Prior added 60 runs in 30 overs. On a pitch that may well deteriorate sharply, the time occupying the crease could prove almost as important as the runs scored.

"Joe was brilliant," said Pietersen. "He is his own man. He played some lovely cricket shots. He has got a good head on his shoulders. I always say never judge anyone after a couple of hours batting for England but he showed signs that he will have a very good Test career.

"He didn't need too much help. He came in there, and was scoring freely. He's a good little player and a lovely man as well. He's a good human being."

Pietersen accepted that it had not been the most entertaining day for spectators and suggested that the slow pace of play would have persuaded many to stop watching long before the close.

"The Indians think that is the kind of wicket they can produce to pull the series back," he said. "The viewers have got no interest in what I've got to say because they switched off four or five hours ago. It is an incredible challenge for the lads to see what we can get out of this over the next four days. We've had some incredible challenges over the last two or three years."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on December 15, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    @DG - I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I personally have not moaned about the pitch and it seems that the less complex players have handled it better. My point is that this attritional cricket is all well and good for die hard fans but may discourage potential new fans from getting into the game. Then again I suppose there's enough T20 stuff going on

  • Srinivas on December 14, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    @JG, I wouldn't say my favourite player struggled. He showed his character, the stuff of Legends, to shelve his natural instincts and slug it out in the middle. That's how I look at Test Cricket and that's how a player like KP is loved by many non-English fans, for his ability to handle the challenges that different conditions pose. I mean, how about a bit more positivity in our outlook regarding the challenges thrown at players and the way they responded rather than getting pre-occupied by pitch and all of that?

  • John on December 14, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    @Dravid_Gravitas_Statchin_Selfishkar on (December 14 2012, 04:28 AM GMT) Understand your views there but it's not just England fans who have moaned about the pitch. Obviously both sets of batsman inc your favourite player have struggled on it so far although Root looked pretty untroubled as did Prior and Swann made it look easy. It's obviously made for attritional cricket and if India deliberately prepared such a pitch then it is there right to do so. The one thing I will say is that it doesn't encourage the average man to start watching cricket

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    @rohit, nobody complained about the pitch in the UAE, england fans know what happened in the UAE, saeed ajmal - possibly the best bowler in the world - took advantage of england being poor against spin. turning wickets make for exciting cricket, like the first 3 tests. this new pitch is useless. but ask sehwag and sachin's middle stump how the pitch is for fast bowlers

  • Andrew on December 14, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    @Rohith Chowdary, England struggling in India? Actually they appear to be thriving.....and in conditions prepared for the home team. India would have been much more of a success if they didn't used these pitches.There is no mid to long term India bowler in history with a bowling average of under 28. That is a very poor statistic.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Well, "Don't judge a pitch until both sides have batted on it" It's a cliche for a reason! Saw many Indian supporters claiming that their batsmen would dominate England on this pitch, well not worked out that way so far! 330 on this surface is looking like a very good first innings total right about now. Personally I'm not in favour of pitchs designed to force a result. I actually think a draw can be a great match to watch and pitches which make draws possible force one team to really outplay the other to get the victory.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    Who was saying that u can't blame pitch untill u don't see Sehwag batting on it. he was uprooted on the 2nd ball he faced

  • John on December 14, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    @Meety on (December 14 2012, 01:20 AM GMT) re "I think England will be thankfull for having Bresnan in the side to boost the batting, as I think every run should be crucial" - Mate , Randy and Jonesy have been trying for ages to come up with a gem like that and you do by chance. Ironically I was about to post something saying that I think Swann (despite a lower average) is a better batsman than both Bres and Broad - and obviously one of our senior batsmen too , but then again Monty looks more accomplished than him right now. Seriously though , I said pre test that I hope they didn't choose Bres because they thought he could add something to the batting and I wonder if Swann should be moved up the order. I don't think Swann is great but I think he may be better than Bres and Broad. BTW I know Broad aint playing so was just generalising

  • Alex on December 14, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    I am converted to capitalism. Socialism is evil in a way. Sometime it is needed to elevate evolution of society but not much. if BCCI is given free ride in that they run a business and no one taxing them , everyone wants a piece of pie. Every politicians wants influence in BCCI to pick their relatives kid who probably average in everything. This is not just india , if you give free stuff this is what happens. No accountability on part of BCCI . They literaly doing day robbery on innocent indian cricket fans without producing a good product. I think it is impossible to change BCCI operation , it has so many roots , its like its own life form. It feeds only rich people with their profit. I don't mind people making profit for their hard work , atleast make a system that can find better talent than finding short unathletic people one after another. Problem is it is not rocket science to find people. BCCI do not care in finding talent or making better indian team.

  • Kumar on December 14, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    what a shame.. pitches like this r created by BCCI. There is a simple solution for this & ICC has to step in and lay down some basic rules of how the pitch should behave. If not, match should be abandoned !. And proper ICC action should be taken against that host country.

    As it is Test cricket is loosing audience & by allowing to have a Test match to be played on a wicket like this, doesn't help the cause ! ICC please show that you still have some power over BCCI bullying. First its DRS, then what ?

    Anyways....its all up to ICC. Cheers, Kumar

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