Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cricket: KP wants victory after record stand

KEVIN Pietersen and Ian Bell ground India down at The Oval – but their record triple-century stand will take on extra significance only if it underpins a fourth successive npower Test victory.

Pietersen at least felt that way as he assessed his 175 – and Bell’s unbeaten 181 – in a stumps total of 457 for three.

England are in position to bat India further out of this fourth Test today, and then hope to bowl them out twice on a very good pitch in pursuit of a 4-0 whitewash at some point over the next three days.

Pietersen recalls from his own experience, as a 2006-07 Ashes tourist, the misery of a whitewash.

Asked if he takes extra pleasure in demoralising opposition, he said: “As long as we make that count and win the Test match, then yes.

“If we don’t win the Test match, then no.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of a whitewash, but it’s not for us to worry about what’s happening in the Indian rooms; it’s for us to make sure we win the first hour tomorrow and over the next three days we get the 20 Indian wickets.”

While Bell can hope for a maiden double-century in the morning, Pietersen has 19 Test hundreds – alongside team-mates Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, and just three short of England’s all-time best.

He said: “It would be nice to get a record, but I think there are a lot of players in this team who are going to get more than 22 hundreds.

“They will do.

“It’s be amazing to be part of a team where you’ve got guys who are hitting hundreds like this.

“It’s not a competition; it’s not a race. It’s just a case of winning games for England, getting us into position where we can win games.”

He fell short of a second double-hundred in this series, but added: “Nicking my first two balls for four this morning off (Shantha) Sreesanth, if somebody had said to me ‘you can have 175 and that’s it’ I would have said ’thank you, goodbye.’”

The former skipper could still reflect on his fourth hundred at a venue where he memorably made his first to help England clinch the 2005 Ashes, and which is now his home ground as a Surrey batsman.

Of his other Oval centuries, he said: “South Africa in 2008 was special, because it was the first Test of only three or four I captained.

“Getting Test hundreds is something you dream about when you’re a kid and then trying to make a profession as a cricketer – so any Test hundred is amazing.

“To score four here now is pretty cool.”

Sreesanth was one of four frontline India bowlers to suffer against Pietersen and Bell.

But he was happy to voice his admiration for England’s third-wicket pair.

“After lunch they took charge again, and credit to them,” he said. “It was not really bad bowling, but they took charge and just kept going.”

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