KEVIN Pietersen reflected on a ‘‘satisfying’’ century but said his 22nd Test hundred would mean a lot more if, as expected, it is part of a famous victory over India.
The most mercurial cricketer of his generation, Pietersen displayed an uncanny mastery of conditions and of world-class opponents to follow his captain Alastair Cook in equalling the all-time England record for Test tons.
Their double-century partnership put the tourists on course for a total of 413 all out, allowing Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann the leeway to exploit spinners’ conditions at the Wankhede Stadium.
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India closed on 117 for seven, 31 in front, and surely on course to lose today in a series which will then stand 1-1 with two to play.
There was an understatement in much of what England’s returning hero Pietersen said afterwards, which contrasted with his supreme batsmanship.
‘‘It was a pretty difficult wicket,’’ he said.
‘‘You knew that at some stage a ball had your name on it, so to have got some runs on that was satisfying.’’ Pietersen’s performance will inevitably be set in the context of his long summer of contract wrangles, and his ‘‘reintegration’’ as an England cricketer only after a tortuous series of clear-the-air meetings with management and team-mates.
In an environment which prizes the team ethos above all, he was at pains to stress that his personal glory will count for little without consequent collective success.
‘‘It will mean a lot more if we win tomorrow,’’ he added.
‘‘Getting hundreds for England, and especially Cookie going to 22 and then saying to me ‘you haven’t got far to go, then you’re there as well’ ... it was a special moment.
‘‘Cookie was magnificent, and it’s a great feeling to be at the top of the list with him.’’ The wonder of day three in the second Test was that Pietersen (186) – and in his own more functional fashion, Cook (122) – made India’s three-strong spin attack labour so much longer for their successes.
Pietersen, in particular, was largely untroubled by sharp turn and bounce and made a nonsense of a weakness many have perceived against leftarm spin by taking heaviest toll on India’s most dangerous bowler Pragyan Ojha (five for 143).
England, nine-wicket losers in the first Test, can realistically again contemplate the possibility of series victory.
‘‘We’ve come here to try and win and want to front up to the challenge,’’ Pietersen added.
‘‘The captain asked that of us, especially before this second Test match, and some of the guys are really going a long way to win us this one tomorrow.’’ Pietersen, who infamously claimed only three months ago that it was ‘‘not easy being me’’ in an apparently dysfunctional England dressing room, is telling a very different tale now.
‘‘The dressing room is absolutely fantastic,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re sticking together really well, all helping each other out – and not letting things get on top of us.