Cricket Test : Bell, Pietersen Punish Ragged India

London, Aug 20 (IANS) Big centuries from Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen put England in command at 457 for three in the first innings after the second day's play against India in the fourth and the final cricket Test at The Oval here Friday.

After a quiet first session, Bell (181 batting, 17x4, 2x6) and Pietersen (175, 27x4) cashed in on the perfect batting conditions and tore apart the Indian bowling with their mammoth 350-run stand off 483 balls, the highest ever for the third wicket by England against India.

The duo joined forces after an hour's play following the quick dismissals of Alastair Cook (34) and Andrew Strauss (40) and scored runs at will.

India started the day putting on a much-improved show in the morning session by quickly dismissing openers as England added just 51 runs to their overnight 75 for no loss.

Barring pacer Ishant Sharma, none of the Indian bowlers could make much impact.

Pacer Rudra Pratap Singh, who is making a Test comeback after three years, was stiff while bowling and was rusty while fielding. Sreesanth was good in spells but was too expensive so was leg-spinner Amit Mishra.

Ishant gave India a perfect start in his first over drawing Cook to a drive but a healthy edge flew to Virender Sehwag to first slip. It took 20 minutes for England to add to their overnight score. Ishant's first spell read 6-3-7-1.

Sreesanth delivered the second blow with a wide delivery and Strauss edged to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni after adding just two to his overnight score.

England, however, came back strongly in the post-lunch session and it was complete mayhem for India. The intent that the Indian bowlers showed in the first session was completely lost after the lunch session and they gifted runs to both Bell and Pietersen.

The first 10 overs after lunch were plundered for 59 runs and Bell got to his 16th Test century, his maiden at The Oval, in style with a four off Suresh Raina that drew a huge applause from the crowd.

India took the new ball an over before tea but Bell drove Sreesanth through the covers for a four as England made 296 for two at the tea break.

Pietersen swatted the first ball after resumption off Sharma for a four to the mid-wicket boundary to bring up his 19th Test century at his home ground. Pietersen tried to repeat the shot in the next ball as well but got a top edge that looped to Gambhir, who messed up the opportunity.

England scored 161 runs in 34 overs in the last session as boundaries flowed in thick and fast. It took just 61 balls for Pietersen to get from 100 to 150, which he brought by spanking Mishra for a four behind square.

Pietersen was set for a well-deserved double century, which could have been his second in the series, but perished in his attempt to hit back-to-back fours of Raina and the part-time off-spinner took a good catch diving left off his own bowling.


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Title: Cricket Test : Bell, Pietersen Punish Ragged India

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