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Pietersen rides his luck

BIRMINGHAM: Kevin Pietersen rode his luck as he closed in on his first Test century since March last year here on Saturday.

England, when rain forced an early tea on the second day of the second Test, were 191 for three in reply to Pakistan's first innings 72 — a lead of 191.

Pietersen, who came into this match on the back of 22 innings without a Test hundred, was 78 not out after being dropped three times. Paul Collingwood was unbeaten on six.

Pietersen, as well as being reprieved by Pakistan's fielders, had another lucky break in a rain-marred morning session.

He was on 41 when, backing away seemingly distracted and believing the ball was dead, he spooned a catch off Mohammad Asif to Pakistan captain Salman Butt at mid-off.

However, it appeared South African umpire Marais Erasmus had in fact called dead ball although Pietersen was leaving himself open to the possibility of dismissal by playing a shot. Butt questioned Erasmus, standing in only his third Test, but Pietersen remained not out.

In the 38 balls possible before lunch, England advanced from 112 for two to 125 for two, a lead of 53.

Another reprieve

Pietersen, dropped twice on Friday, was still on his overnight score of 36 when he was given yet another reprieve. He got an inside edge onto his pad of left-arm quick Mohammad Aamer and the ball looped gently to Umar Amin in the gully.

But Amin, perhaps put off by the bowler's lbw appeal, dropped the simple catch — the seventh chance Pakistan had put down in two Tests.

After lunch, Pietersen completed a 97-ball fifty when he struck Aamer firmly off his pads for his eighth four.

Jonathan Trott, 31 not out overnight, followed him to the landmark with a straight driven boundary off Umar Gul, his seventh four in 105 balls.

But Trott, on 55, fell when medium-pacer Amin, developing something of a reputation as a ‘golden arm', had him well caught low down in the gully by substitute fielder Yasir Hameed.

Pietersen and fellow South Africa-born batsman Trott put on 133 for the third wicket, having come together when England had lost both its openers on 44 on Friday.

Pakistan — for the second innings in a row — had been dismissed for its lowest score against England after making just 80 in a mammoth 354-run loss in the first of a four-Test series at Trent Bridge on Sunday.

James Anderson, who took a Test match-best 11 for 71 at Trent Bridge, led England's attack again with four for 20 and he was supported by fellow seamers Stuart Broad (four for 38) and Steven Finn (two for 10). — AFP

Pakistan — 1st innings: 72.

England — 1st innings: A. Strauss c Zulqarnain b Asif 25, A. Cook c Akmal b Asif 17, J. Trott c sub (Hameed) b Amin 55, K. Pietersen (batting) 78, P. Collingwood (batting) 6; Extras (lb-8, w-1, nb-1): 10; Total (for three wkts. at tea): 191.

Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-44, 3-177.

Pakistan bowling: Aamer 16-2-55-1, Asif 15-2-36-1, Gul 9-1-24-0, Ajmal 14-2-57-0, Amin 4.3-1-11-1 .

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