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Regal Pietersen century keeps England in charge

Kevin Pietersen strode to his 18th test hundred on the second day of the first test between England and...

England cricketer Kevin Pietersen plays a shot at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 on 27 February 2011. Picture: Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP

Kevin Pietersen strode to his 18th test hundred on the second day of the first test between England and India at Lord's on Friday with an innings of regal authority.

His 115 not out in an England first innings total of 305 for five at tea kept the home side in charge against an Indian attack who, in the absence of their injured spearhead Zaheer Khan, bowled with more accuracy and control than they had shown on Thursday's rain-truncated day.

Praveen Kumar, no more than medium pace from a short run with a slingy action, took all three wickets to fall on Friday, accounting for Jonathan Trott (70), Ian Bell (45) and Eoin Morgan (0). The last two fell in the space of four deliveries to the second new ball.

Zaheer left the field with a hamstring strain on Thursday after dismissing both England openers cheaply. A team statement said he might not bowl again in the first innings but was likely to be available for the second.

After batting with stern self-denial on Thursday, Pietersen flourished on a sunny morning, unfurling two glorious on-driven fours in the opening overs.

He survived the loss of Trott, lbw to Kumar, and a confident appeal from the Indians when Rahul Dravid dived forward from leg-gully to gather the ball off the same bowler when he was one short of a third consecutive test half-century.

Pietersen was reprieved when television replays failed to prove conclusively that Dravid had gathered the ball cleanly.

The runs continued to flow and after batting for a minute short of five hours, Pietersen reached his century with another imperious on-drive for four off Ishant Sharma, his 10th of the innings.

Bell kept him company in a fourth-wicket partnership of 110 before he fell to Kumar caught behind by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni diving to his right. Morgan succumbed three balls later for a duck to the same combination pushing tentatively forward.

Reduced to three specialist bowlers, Dhoni handed the wicketkeeper's pads to Dravid and bowled his medium pace directly after lunch.

With the third ball of his second over, he beat Pietersen and Billy Bowden upheld a loud Indian appeal for a caught behind. Pietersen called for a review and the infrared technology showed the ball had not touched his bat.

Dhoni, who had bowled three previous overs in test cricket, completed five overs before taking the second new ball. He bowled another three overs before the tea interval.

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