Kevin Pietersen struck the India bowlers to all parts of Lord’s on Friday during a majestic unbeaten innings of 202 on a sun-dappled second day of the first test.
Pietersen unfurled a series of glorious drives at the spiritual home of world cricket before an appreciative capacity crowd attending the 2,000th test match and the 100th between the two countries.
He smacked 21 boundaries and a six in more than eight hours at the crease to complete his third test double century and take England to 474 for eight declared.
India survived the final half hour to reach 17 for no wicket at the close and set the stage for Saturday’s showpiece day and Sachin Tendulkar, who needs one more century to become the first man to complete 100 international hundreds.
India, reduced to three specialist bowlers in the absence of Zaheer Khan who was off the field all day due to a hamstring strain, had their own hero in the lion-hearted Praveen Kumar who took five for 106 from 40.3 overs.
Moving the ball disconcertingly through the air at times at no more than medium pace with a low-slung action from an economical run-up, Kumar deservedly won a place on the Lord’s honours board in only his fourth test.
His performance was all the more creditable as conditions were in favour of the batsmen with the sun shining, the pitch full of runs and little in the way of support.
To underline India’s problems, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni twice handed the wicketkeeper’s pads and gloves to Rahul Dravid in order to bowl his medium pace in two spells of five and three overs respectively.
After batting with stern self-denial in demanding conditions on Thursday’s rain-shortened day, Pietersen flourished on a sunny morning with two glorious on-driven fours in the opening overs.
He survived the loss of Jonathan Trott, lbw to Kumar for 70, and a confident appeal from the Indians when Dravid dived forward from leg-gully to gather the ball off the same bowler when he was one short of a third consecutive test half-century.