Pietersen battles hard knocks

England batsman scores 80 against Pakistan as he continues struggle over losing captaincy.

    Pietersen was dropped three times on his way to an important innings for the hosts [AFP]

    Kevin Pietersen ground his way to an innings of 80 that helped put England in command of the second Test against Pakistan on Saturday – and then told of a crisis in which he has struggled to re-adjust to the ranks after losing the captaincy.

    Pietersen was dropped three times and survived being controversially caught off a dead ball but his runs still gave England a crucial first innings lead of 179 which the visitors reduced to 160 at stumps.

    The batsman was satisfied to be back among the runs even though he missed a clear opportunity to register his first Test century in 23 innings by offering off-spinner Saeed Ajmal a return catch.

    Pietersen lost the captaincy of the England team 18 months ago in controversial circumstances following a public fallout with former coach Peter Moores, underwent Achilles surgery a year ago that kept him out of the Ashes series against Australia and then averaged just 24 on the tour of his native South Africa.

    Still in the runs

    "Obviously I haven't been scoring the big hundreds I did in my first 50-odd Tests. But it's not as if I haven't been scoring runs," Pietersen said at Edgbaston.
    "It's a case of getting back to the drawing board and keep working just as hard when things are tough – because just round the corner, there's a new knock.

    "You go from captaining the team to being one of the men again."

    England suffered a first innings batting collapse on Saturday but still edged nearer to another crushing win over Pakistan, who were dismissed for a dismal 72 on Friday before bowling England out for 251.

    They reached 19 for one at the close on Saturday with Imran Farhat unbeaten on 10 and Azhar Ali not out on 5.

    The wicket to fall was that of Pakistan captain Salman Butt, defeated by a swinging James Anderson ball on off stump and caught by Andrew Strauss at first slip.

    Pakistan still have much to do to claw their way back into the game though the manner in which they finished off the England first innings would have given them encouragement.

    England lost their last seven wickets for 46 runs as recalled off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed five for 82.

    Less comforting would have been Pakistan's six dropped catches.

    Pakistan's inept fielding display was never better illustrated than when Butt dropped Graeme Swann at mid-off.

    It was Pakistan's sixth drop and coach Waqar Younis reacted by laughing, presumably in disbelief at his team's inadequacies in the field.

    "The only thing we can do is to keep practising harder," Butt said.

    "Sometimes it seems like there is not much more you can do other than to laugh about it. But we will keep working harder for an improvement."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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