Pietersen holds England together

York Press: Kevin Pietersen reached 68no at tea as he helped England overcome the loss of two early wickets Kevin Pietersen reached 68no at tea as he helped England overcome the loss of two early wickets

Kevin Pietersen helped England overcome the loss of two early wickets on a pitch of turgid low bounce, on day one of the final Test against India in Nagpur.

Alastair Cook's tourists, needing a draw here to close out a historic series victory, lost both openers - their captain and Nick Compton - to Ishant Sharma inside the first hour, but Pietersen (68no) and Jonathan Trott then shared a hard-working stand of 86 in 39 overs to carry England into three figures on the way to a teatime 133 for four after they had chosen to bat first.

Pietersen had to play a very different game in his 108-ball 50 today to the century with which he transformed proceedings in England's famous second-Test victory in Mumbai last month.

Compton was the first to be undone by the slow-motion surface when a short delivery produced only looping, disorientating bounce. As the ball died off the surface his bat was thrown into position too quickly and resulted in a thin edge which barely carried to the wicketkeeper.

Cook needed 15 balls to get off the mark, as Pragyan Ojha took the new ball in the absence of a second seamer and tried to out-bore the England captain with a seven-two leg-side field and consequent negative line.

Trott contributed England's first boundary, a straight-driven four when Sharma helpfully took the pitch out of the equation with a half-volley, but the number three was fortunate to survive on seven when he played too soon at a length ball and was hit on the pad.

Sharma was convinced the lbw was stone-dead, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena made the marginal call that ball had hit pad just outside the line of off-stump.

Cook found himself on the other side of a similar ruling soon afterwards from Dharmasena - and although it looked as if he was hit outside the line, this time he had to go lbw.

Trott and Pietersen provided some much-needed stability as they gradually attuned themselves to an unfamiliar experience, even by sub-continental standards before Trott fell to slow left-armer Ravindra Jadeja as a misjudgment saw him wave through an arm ball which bowled him off-stump.

Ian Bell disappointed, making only a single in 28 balls before poking a straightforward catch to cover off leg-spinner Piyush Chawla. And as Pietersen shepherded debutant Joe Root through to the end of the afternoon session, a record-equalling 23rd Test century appeared on the horizon.

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