London: Kevin Pietersen is being backed to enter a "purple patch" after looking much closer to his best in an innings of 72 during the drawn second Test against Sri Lanka at Lord`s.
The talented Pietersen made just three before he was lbw to left-arm spinner Rangana Herath in England`s innings and 14-run first Test win in Cardiff.
Herath did for him again at Lord`s on Tuesday, producing a fine ball that pitched outside leg and clipped the top of off-stump.
That was the 20th time in his past 65 Test innings that Pietersen had been dismissed by a left-arm spinner.
But he had looked in increasingly fluent touch before failing to complete what would have been his first Test century in England since he made exactly 100 against his native South Africa at The Oval in 2008.
"It wasn`t an easy situation when he (Pietersen) went in, dark cloud cover and the lights on," England captain Andrew Strauss told reporters.
"Lord`s does a lot more in those conditions, added the opening batsman of his Middlesex home ground. So he did have to graft pretty hard then.
"He did that outstandingly well and then obviously came out the other side and played some lovely shots today (Tuesday).
"We always knew he was going to score runs at some stage, and we hope this is the catalyst to go and have a purple patch like Alastair Cook`s having."
Cook, Strauss`s opening partner, made 106 -- his third Test century in four innings where his other score was 96 in the first innings of this match.
Strauss, by contrast, managed just four runs in total in the second of a three-match series that left England 1-0 up ahead of the finale at Hampshire`s Rose Bowl ground, which stages its first Test starting on June 16.
"I was obviously frustrated to miss out twice on a good batting surface," Strauss said. "But I think to some extent that`s the nature of the beast as an opening batsman ... sometimes you get a couple of good ones early."
Of perhaps greater concern was the way England`s attack, missing injured Ashes spearhead James Anderson, struggled on a good pitch.
Fast-medium bowler Stuart Broad managed just two wickets in the match at a total cost of 154 runs.
Meanwhile Steven Finn, Anderson`s replacement, was repeatedly wayward, although he did take four for 108 in Sri Lanka`s first innings 479.
"There was a lack of consistency there, obviously," Strauss said.
"But the guys are not machines, and sometimes the rhythm`s not there -- and it`s hard work.
"I think Steven Finn got a lot better as the game went on."
As for Broad, Strauss added: "I don`t think he`s quite getting the rub of the green at the moment. He`s bowled some very good balls that are passing the edge, and has probably bowled better than the statistics say."
Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan was named man-of-the-match for his first innings 193 -- the highest Test score by a Sri Lankan at Lord`s.
But in the midst of that effort he suffered a broken thumb after twice being hit by fast bowler Chris Tremlett.
Dilshan sat out the last two days and is unlikely to play at the Rose Bowl where Kumar Sangakkara, his immediate predecessor as Sri Lanka captain and the acting skipper at Lord`s, will lead the side if the opener is ruled out.
"At the moment I am out for the third Test," Dilshan said. "The physio and doctors have advised three to four weeks to heal.
"I have 10 days, so if it`s a quick recovery it might be I can play."