VIDEO: Kevin Pietersen's five finest Test innings as KP turns 36

Sport360 staff 15:22 27/06/2016
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  • Kevin Pietersen: England's biggest match winner in the late-2000s

    Kevin Pietersen has been the equal manifestation of brilliance and controversy in his career. There is a style, a flair and a verve to his batting that saw Pietersen win over fans across the globe. The man they call ‘KP’ also has a keen disregard for reputations – no challenge is too big, no bowler safe from his wrath.

    Buckets of self-belief has underpinned Pietersen’s success, his bravado as world renowned as his switch hitting exploits.

    But overall, his lasting legacy will always be the mark he left at the wicket, his ability to play innings of significance at crucial crossroads of matches helping take England to the top of the Test rankings and reclaim the Ashes after what seemed an eternity. How he confronted Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne & co head on at Lord’s in 2005 are etched in many memories of cricket fans and Pietersen always looked a man completely at home at the crease.

    From bold, fearless hitting when a nation’s hopes rested on his shoulders, to controlled aggression on tricky pitches, ‘KP’ has some outstanding batting displays to his credit. Here, we look back at five of our favourite Pietersen innings in Test cricket.

    158 vs Australia at The Oval, 2005

    Coming out to bat at 67-3 in the third innings of the match and England leading Australia by a slender 74 runs, the pressure is on Pietersen. The series hangs in the balance, a successful Australian chase levelling the contest will make sure the urn returns Down Under.

    Pietersen not only piles on the lead, but widens it to such an extent that the slim chances of a fourth innings chase becomes nearly impossible. He pulverises the Aussie bowlers, scoring 158 off a mere 187 balls, comfortable both off front and back foot. Brett Lee pays the heaviest price as he goes for 55 runs from 48 deliveries bowled at Pietersen.

    134 vs India at Lord’s, 2007

    With a lead of 97 runs, England come out to bat for a second time in the match. Against an Indian bowling attack of high calibre, the team moves from 40-1 to 102-3 very quickly once Pietersen walks in. Soon, however, the scoreboard reads 132-5 and a realistic chance of getting bowled out for under 200 looms large.

    But Pietersen has other plans. The 27-year-old scores 134, stitching together a 119-run partnership with Matt Prior to turn the game on its head once more. He handles the bowlers with caution, reserving his best for the veteran Anil Kumble, off whom he scores at a strike-rate of above 75. By the time Pietersen is out, England have secured a lead of 372 and narrowly miss out on a win as rain takes hold.

    152 vs South Africa at Lord’s, 2008

    Three years since making his Test debut for England, Pietersen plots a glorious return against the country of his birth, playing the lead role in flattening the Proteas on a sunny day at Lord’s.

    Coming out to bat with England in a bit of a wobble, Pietersen nearly runs himself out for a second-ball duck. Next up, a Dale Steyn scorcher hits him on the head, sending his helmet off for repairs. But it’s his day and none are able to stop him.

    Along with Ian Bell, he puts on 286 for the fourth wicket, bringing up his 13th Test ton in the process. His 152 is scored off just 181 deliveries and is a trademark example of Pietersen in full flight.

    227 vs Australia at Adelaide, 2010

    It has been 21-months since he’s last scored a century for England, and he walks out to bat with his team comfortable on 176-2. He spends the next 98 overs in the middle bludgeoning an Australian attack consisting of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger and Shane Watson.

    The first milestone is crossed early on day three when he strokes his way to a century and shortly afterwards he crosses his bogey score of 158. But he doesn’t stop there and bats on until an ugly heave ends his seven-hour stay.

    186 vs India at Mumbai, 2012

    England have been outspun at Ahmedabad and the Indian captain has asked for rank turners to drive home the hosts’ advantage. The generous curator at the Wankhede obliges and as luck would have it India bat first, posting 327 in the first innings.

    England’s solid start of 66-1 becomes 68-2 and Pragyan Ojha is in the zone when Pietersen comes out to bat. What follows is a counter-attack seldom seen in Test cricket. England’s maverick unleashes a flurry of aggressive shots against the Indian bowlers, not discriminating in his abuse between spin and pace.

    Scoring all round the ground, he cuts, pulls, sweeps and reverse sweeps, getting 171 of his 186 against Indian spinners who were expected to wreak havoc. Ojha and Ravichandran Ashwin are launched into the stands four times, and into the ropes 20 times.

    He is the only other English batsman to cross 30 apart from Alistair Cook (122), and helps his team to a healthy 86-run lead before the spinners run through India’s young batting line-up. England romp home to a memorable 10-wicket win on conditions tailor-made for the home side.

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