The Oval: Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen slammed attacking centuries to put England in a commanding position at the end of Day 2 of the fourth and final Test at The Oval as the Indian bowlers continued to perform badly on a sunny day. England piled up a huge 457/3 in the first innings, thus giving them a perfect chance of clinching the series 4-0.
Bell remained unbeaten on 181 off 304 balls with the help of 17 four and two sixes while Pietersen slammed 175. They stitched a attractive 350-run third-wicket stand to have India on the mat again in the series.
Pietersen’s 232-ball innings ended when Suresh Raina held on to a stunning catch off his own bowling.
Despite losing two wickets in the morning session, Bell and Pietersen plundered runs at will, making a mockery of an insipid and hapless Indian bowling. Both the batsmen matched each other stroke for stroke and played shots all over the ground.
The last session fetched 161 runs for England with the loss of Pietersen’s wicket. England also had a perfect second session as they added 170 runs without losing a wicket. Both Bell and Pietersen scored at will against the spineless Indian bowling. When tea was taken, England were 296/2.
Bell scored a magnificent century to guide England to a commanding position. Bell’s chanceless knock was replete with some silky drives both on and off sides of the field. He needed 181 balls and 11 fours to reach his 16th hundred of his Test career.
Pietersen, on the other hand, slammed a quickfire century to add salt to India’s injury. His entertaining knock consisted of 27 hits to the fence.
The South African born batsman came in with a positive intent and started hitting boundaries from the word go. He was particularly severe on leg-spinner Amit Mishra after lunch as he repeatedly played unorthodox shots against him.
Earlier on the Day 2, Bell, along with Pietersen, lifted the English camp by hitting boundaries off Sreesanth and leggie Amit Mishra after Indian pacers got rid of both the English openers.
Indian bowlers bowled well to see the backs of both the English openers in the morning session of the day 2 of The Oval Test but the hosts consolidated a little bit to go to lunch at 126/2 with Bell and Pietersen remaining unbeaten on 29 and 18 respectively.
For the first time in the series the morning session belonged to the Indian bowlers, especially the quicker bowlers with Ishant Sharma and S Sreesanth claiming with a wicket each. The third seamer RP Singh also looked far better than Day 1.
But it was again Ishant who remained the best bowler on show as he constantly troubled the English batsmen and made the run-making difficult for even the in-form batsmen Bell and Pietersen during the first session.
India have reaped the benefits of pitching the ball up as S Sreesanth inflicted 2nd blow on the English team when he got rid of captain Andrew Strauss. Strauss made a 105-ball 40 with the help of 5 fours.
The England captain made the same mistake of trying to drive without getting to the pitch of a swinging ball. Ishant Sharma started the Day 2 of the fourth and final Test on a bright note for India as he dismissed England opener Alastair Cook in the very first over for 34.
Cook failed to add any run to his overnight score before edging the ball to Virender Sehwag at the first slip off Ishant Sharma.