Kevin Pietersen warmed up for the forthcoming Test series against South Africa with a majestic double hundred as Surrey replied strongly to Lancashire's 485-7 declared during today's third day at Guildford.
England’s number four scored only his second County Championship hundred since breaking into the Test team in 2005, and also posted the fastest first-class century scored this summer off 93 balls.
Lancashire can count themselves unlucky that they have been faced with Pietersen at his best, especially Simon Kerrigan, who bore the brunt of the right-hander’s assault as he went for 1-152 from 23 overs. The left-arm spinner actually bowled much better than those figures would suggest.
Pietersen shared 181 inside 35 for the third wicket with Zander de Bruyn, whose 94 was completely overshadowed by a touch of genius. The England man finished the day on 234 not out from 190 balls, including 30 fours and eight sixes, as the hosts closed on 430-5 from only 85 overs.
Although this match is hurtling towards a draw with only a day left in good conditions for batting, Lancashire are not completely out of the woods just yet, which is quite something after exceptional Steven Croft had posted a career best 154 not out earlier in the day.
“Kevin would have to stay in for a session,” assessed Lancashire coach Peter Moores. “They’ll have their plans of keeping him in, scoring quickly and getting ahead of us. We’re thinking about quick wickets to kill the game stone dead.
“He made it look very simple out there. Though there were some creative shots towards the end, what he did do very well was put all the bowlers under pressure. Like all good players, he made himself very difficult to bowl at.”
Croft scored 50 of the 60 runs added this morning, including lifting Jon Lewis over mid-wicket for six in the early stages of the day before finding the third-man fence on a number of occasions with a flashing blade.
Croft’s day three runs came off 37 balls, including seven fours and the aforementioned six. He passed his previous best of 122 (gained twice) before moving to 150 off 201 balls.
The visitors then made the perfect start to with the ball when left-handed Rory Burns shouldered arms to Chapple with the very first ball of the innings before Ajmal Shahzad had Zafar Ansari caught at second slip by a tumbling Tom Smith, leaving the score at 49-2 at the start of the 17th over.
That brought de Bruyn and Pietersen together just before the lunch break.
The pair took advantage of a number of slices of fortune - inside edges from both, a de Bruyn cut off Chapple that Stephen Moore got a hand on at backward point in the 31st over and then another cut that evaded Moore in the same position off Smith’s first over, the 32nd.
But Pietersen settled quickly and took the lead in the partnership, taking a particular liking to Kerrigan, who had switched to the Railway End of the ground just after lunch. Kerrigan’s first ball sailed out of the ground as Pietersen danced down the track and lofted him over long-off.
The England batsman cut and clipped off his legs in commanding fashion, later swatting Shahzad for four down the ground with a short-arm swat with a straight bat.
Shahzad and Smith stemmed the tide for time in the latter stages of the afternoon session. Lancashire had conceded 43 runs off five overs between the 30th and 34th overs, but only conceded 13 between the 35th and 39th. But, unfortunately, the control was only brief.
Having seen Pietersen scoot past him earlier in the afternoon, de Bruyn regained the lead in the race for their hundreds as both moved in the seventies.
Pietersen hit successive boundaries down the ground off Shahzad to move into the eighties before repeating his earlier dose off Kerrigan over the marquee at long-on when he returned to the attack just before tea.
He reached three figures with a pull over mid-wicket for six before continuing the attack after tea, although by this time he had lost de Bruyn lbw as he attempted to sweep Kerrigan, leaving the score at 230-3.
Pietersen hit Kerrigan straight down the ground for his fourth six before scooping him over Gareth Cross’s head for three. He later pulled another six over mid-wicket in the 62nd over, the same over in which he had hit a four through cover with his trademark switch hit.
He reached his 150 off 130 balls in the 64th over, now bowled by Smith, before seeing Steve Davies caught behind by Cross as the left-hander wafted outside off-stump two balls later.
Kyle Hogg was also pulled for six by a batsman with a license to thrill before he later reached his double having hit another six over mid-wicket, by which time Shahzad had forced Jason Roy (38) top top-edge a hook to Kerrigan at long-leg, leaving the score at 391-5.
“Simon’s bowled at a very good international cricketer on a tough pitch with short boundaries,” added Moores. “The thing I’d say for Simon is that he kept having a go. That is testament to how he plays his cricket.
“It won’t be the first time KP’s attacked a spinner. Simon’s had his days. He got his nine-for against Hampshire, but you’ve got to take both sides as a cricketer.”
Photo - early success for Lancs as Ajmal Shahzad claims Ansari's wicket (c) Nigel French/EMPICS Sport
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd