No ton no problem for Pietersen

Southampton: Kevin Pietersen insisted he felt "a lot of happiness" despite missing out on a Test century against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl.

Pietersen made a fluent 85 on Saturday to help England to 195 for four at stumps on the third day of the third and final Test, a first innings lead of 11 runs.

But, just eight minutes before the schedule close, he was caught behind to give otherwise struggling medium-pacer Thisara Perera a first Test wicket.

His exit left Pietersen searching for his first Test century in Britain since making exactly 100 against his native South Africa at The Oval in August 2008 -- the first match of his brief and ultimately controversial stint as England captain.

But the 30-year-old said of his latest innings: "Actually, it wasn`t frustrating at all. To play the way I`ve
played today has given me a lot of happiness.”

To have gone back to basics and hit the ball straight and kept penetrating the opposite stumps, and playing in three or four areas, for me was brilliant."

Pietersen, who has scored just one hundred in his last 36 Test innings -- a Test-best 227 against Australia at Adelaide in December, added: "If you`d said to me this morning 85 and to play the way I played, the hundreds will come - and a lot of them, I hope.”

"I had three or four scoring areas I`ve been really working hard on. One of them was the ball that got me out, half-volley under the eyes hitting it through extra-cover, hitting it down the ground, and then short balls I look to score off."

As for missing out on what would have been his 18th Test century, Pietersen said: "There was only one or two overs left. I`d have had to have played one or two outrageous strokes to have got to a hundred tonight.”

"I just did exactly what I`d done the whole time I batted -- if it was in my area, hit it. All I needed to do was hit it through extra-cover and pick up some more runs for the team."

Pietersen started to show something of his old form while making 72 in the second innings of the drawn second Test at Lord`s.

"I`ve been promising it for a while. Lord`s was nice, second innings, to get in there and start feeling like I normally feel when I go out and bat. But I really, really enjoyed the way I played today."

Pietersen, who last season joined Surrey from Rose Bowl-based Hampshire after saying he wanted to play for a county nearer his London home, was applauded warmly throughout his innings.

"The reception was fantastic," he said. "I don`t see why it would be frosty. I just changed county -- which I`m sure hundreds and thousands of cricketers have done before."

It was Pietersen`s row with then England coach Peter Moores that cost him the England captaincy and paved the way for the successful alliance between current skipper Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower.

Opening batsman Strauss made just three on Saturday before falling for a single figure score for the third time in as many Test innings to left-arm seamer Chanaka Welegedara.

"He does such a good job for the team," Pietersen said of Strauss. "He loves nothing more than scoring runs and leading from the front. He`s trying as hard as ever, and you`re only ever one knock away from scoring runs.”


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