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Pietersen and Panesar demoralise India

It’s probably fair to say that the rehabilitation of Kevin Pietersen has been completed. The batsman who came in from the cold scored one of the finest ever innings by a visiting player in India, accumulating a brilliant 186 to put England in a dominant position in the second Test in Mumbai.

India’s Cheteshwar Pujara and England’s captain Alastair Cook had shown that, with concentration and orthodox defensive strokes, it was possible to make a big score in Mumbai. Pietersen doesn’t play that way though and took the attack to the Indians, hammering 20 fours and four sixes and happily reverse-sweeping the spinners who were supposed to be his downfall.

Cook’s century had taken him past Andrew Strauss and Pietersen in the list of England century-makers to join Geoff Boycott, Colin Cowdrey and Wally Hammond on 22 centuries. Pietersen didn’t allow his captain to stay ahead for too long, quickly completing his own century adventurously and entertainingly.

England managed an 86-run first innings lead, and looked to their spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann to unsettle the Indian batsmen. The recalled Panesar had been the first innings hero, taking five wickets, and quickly struck again, taking the key wicket of Virender Sehwag, caught by Swann. Swann was quick to emulate Panesar, taking the even more important wicket of Pujara, who has been India’s most prolific batsman in the series so far.

India looked to the Little Prince, Sachin Tendulkar, to rediscover some vestiges of his best form and rescue a Test that was slipping away from them. Tendulkar is a shadow of his former greatness these days though, and, for the second time in the match, Panesar’s spin was his undoing. The exuberant Monty claimed another three wickets before the close, meaning India headed into day four of the Test seven wickets down with a lead of just 31.

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