Kevin Pietersen’s Eight Of The Best Test Match Innings
Kevin Pietersen, when onsong, was something else. KP, could destroy an opposition batting line-up in a session. He loved pressure situations and in an 8-year international career; he played some brilliant knocks. Kevin Pietersen’s status as an all-time great was assured when retired as England’s second greatest run-scorer and one of England’s greatest modern-day batsman, having played some of England’s best test match innings ever.
The most talked-about, obsessed-over and beguiling batsman of his era finished with 8,181 runs from 104 Tests, with 23 hundreds and 35 fifties; a hand in four Ashes series wins, a series win in India, and a reputation as a thrilling compiler of match-winning innings.
His overall Test match stats read:
Matches: 101, Innings: 181, Not Outs: 8, Aggregate: 8181, Highest Score: 227 vs Australia, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 2010, Average: 47.29, 50s: 35, 100s: 23, 200s: 3, 300s: 0, Ducks: 10, Pairs: 0, 4s: 981, 6s: 81, Balls Faced: 13256, Scoring Rate: 61.72.
KP’s Eight best innings:
1. 158 off 187 balls: 15 fours, 7 sixes vs Australia, The Oval, London, 2005.
The last day of the greatest Ashes series ever. England led 2-1, and they needed a draw to win their first Ashes series in 18 years. Australia were desperate to win so they would draw the series and retain the Ashes. Kevin Pietersen came to the crease with England in danger of collapsing. Australia was desperate and on-song. Pietersen needed to survive. A nervous London crowd added to the atmosphere. At Lunch, England were 127/5 leading by just 133 runs.
KP played a memorable knock of counter-attacking cricket. Australia dropped him two times and paid the price for their mistakes. Adam Gilchrist missed a chance off Shane Warne, while Shane Warne dropped KP while standing in the slips off the bowling of Glenn McGrath.
Brett lee was bowling quick and was difficult to contain. Lee hit Pietersen in the ribs and had him ducking. Pietersen just made it to Lunch. During the break, KP asked his captain, Michael Vaughan, about the approach he should adopt. Vaughan told him to whack the ball.
The 2nd session of that last day will remain in Ashes folklore, and those who watched it live at the game and on TV will never forget what happened next.
The Pietermaritzburg-born batsman played a memorable innings. Pietersen hooked and pulled Brett Lee into the stands. He smashed 41 off 19 balls and his aggression towards Brett lee resulted in Brett Lee being dropped from the attack. KP moved from 35(60) to 76(79).
He smacked Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, and Brett Lee to all parts of the Oval. Pietersen played some spectacular cricketing shots all over The Oval. One of the better shots he played was when he smacked Shane Warne over his head and into the stand for six.
Also, Read – Was Kevin Pietersen England Cricket’s Worst Mistake?
KP couldn’t have chosen a better situation to score his maiden Test hundred. In the end, Glenn McGrath bowled Kevin Pietersen for 158. Shane Warne congratulated KP. KP received a standing ovation for his brilliant innings. He received the Man of the Match and England won the Ashes after 18 years.
The 158 he scored in the 2005 Ashes ranks number one on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
2. 186 off 233 balls: 20 fours and 4 sixes vs India, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, 2012:
Firstly, this innings was the best innings I have seen from a foreign batsman in India during my time of watching cricket. In India’s 1st innings, Monty Panesar wreaked havoc on a rank-turner, as he picked up 6 wickets.
The England captain, Alastair Cook and star batsman, Kevin Pietersen made life difficult for the Indian bowlers. Cook batted time and made a vital hundred as he drained the Indian bowling attack. Pietersen went after the Indian bowling attack and used the sweep shot to great effect. However, his most productive shot was the off-side drive on the front foot, which yielded 56 runs.
He hit 4 fours and 2 massive sixes while utilising that shot. To bat with 82 percent control on a rank-turner is something to marvel at. Pure genius. The Telegraph writer, Scyld Berry, rates Kevin Pietersen’s Mumbai innings as one of the greatest innings by a foreign batsman in Asia. He batted with caution in the early stages of his innings, when dealing with Pragyan Ojha’s first spell.
Left Arm Kryptonite
Once he overcame that first spell, Ojha ended up on the receiving end of some special treatment from Pietersen. Pietersen smacked a beautiful lofted off-drive off Pragyan Ojha into the Wankhede Stadium stands.
Ojha bowled wide off-stump, where turn was on offer, and Pietersen smacked the ball for six over a packed off-side field. Pietersen top-scored with 186 to his name, Cook scored 122 and the next top-scorer for the visitors was Nick Compton who scored 29 off 90 balls. In fact, besides Pietersen and Cook, only 3 English batsmen reached double-figures in that innings.
Also, Read – Picking England’s All-Time ODI XI
That masterclass from KP helped England win the match, and the Test series in the subcontinent. No one has beaten India in India in a Test series since that 2012 England Test series. Pietersen was awarded with the Man of the Match Award for that performance and won the appraisal of the Indian public for that brilliant innings.
The 186 he scored against India in 2012 ranks number two on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
3. 227 off 308 balls: 33 fours, 1 six vs Australia, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide, 2010.
24 years had passed since England had won a Test series in Australia. This series was their best chance to win a Test series in Australia. The Australian cricket team had issues during this period and their form was up and down. England had a solid year in 2010.
Leading up to the Ashes, there were question marks over Australia’s team combinations and their form. England drew the 1st test at the GABBA via some monumental batting efforts from the captain, Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen.
They were in the box seat in Adelaide and ended up winning the 2nd Test by an innings and 71 runs thanks to a KP masterclass. Pietersen displayed an 87% control rate and his most productive shot was the off-side drive on the front foot, which yielded 73 runs including 9 fours and 1 six.
The visitors bowled Australia out for 245 in 85.5 overs in Australia’s first innings. England, in reply, declared at 620/5 after 152 overs. Kevin Pietersen scored 227 off 308 balls. He smacked the Aussie attack to all parts.
An Ashes Onslaught
He took a liking to Xavier Doherty, Doug Bollinger and Peter Siddle, who all leaked over 100 runs for the innings. It had been 21 months since Kevin Pietersen had scored a Test ton.
His last hundred came against the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009. He put on 3 partnerships of over 100. The first one with Alastair Cook (148 off 269 balls: 18 fours) of 175 for the 3rd wicket. Then 101 runs for the 4th wicket with Paul Collingwood, and then 116 runs for the 5th wicket with Ian Bell.
He had a grin on his face, once he passed the century mark, but he was far from finished. 121 balls later he converted the 100 into a double-hundred with a shot pushed wide of cover off the bowling of Xavier Doherty, who had a forgettable game. Pietersen dropped to his knee and gave a fist pump to celebrate a brilliant double-hundred. Doherty dismissed KP, but England already posted a big score.
England not only won the match, but they also ended up winning the series 3-1, which was their first Test series win in Australia in 24 years. Pietersen received the Man of the Match award for his excellent batting display.
The 227 he scored in the 2010/11 Ashes ranks number three on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
4. 149 off 214 balls: 22 fours, 1 six vs South Africa, Headingley, Leeds, 2012:
Off-field issues and internal conflicts with teammates and the coaching staff were irrelevant as KP slayed the world’s best attack all over Headingley. South Africa came to England in 2012 for a 3-match Test series, and the series promised to an epic series full of action and drama. South Africa ended up winning the 3-match Test Series, 2-0.
After losing the 1st test, England needed something special to fight back in the 2nd Test at Headingley, and it came from their flamboyant superstar, Kevin Pietersen. An attack that featured an all-time great in Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Jacques Kallis and Imran Tahir were no match for KP.
Also, Read – Top 5 Most Test Match Runs For England Cricket
This was KP’s penultimate Test hundred on home soil. One particular shot that he played off Dale Steyn was brilliant. Pietersen himself rates that shot as one of his best shots. In the 2013 interview for All Out Magazine, KP recalled the moment where he pulled Dale Steyn through mid-wicket. He expected the delivery Steyn would deliver and dealt with it.
7000 On The Cards
He passed the 7000-Test run mark and became the fastest batsman in terms of time to pass the 7000-Test run landmark. No one expected the man to fire in that inninngs, and this masterpiece came out of the blue.
Before tea, Pietersen seemed restraint and only unleashed in the extended last session, which was 3 hours and 10 minutes. Something clicked, and even a challenging pitch was not enough to stop KP. At tea, he was on 43 from 83 balls.
Then in the last session he smacked 106 of England’s 168 runs for the last session in 42 overs. Hashim Amla dropped him off the bowling of Morne Morkel when he was on 52, but still one has to take their chances and Pietersen sure took his chances. That innings from Kevin Pietersen was a masterclass in aggressive batting.
The 149 he scored in the 2012 series vs SA ranks number four on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
5. 151 off 165 balls: 16 fours, 6 fours Vs Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2012.
Extreme Colombo heat and humidity, 1-0 down in the series, team underperforming and playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. These were the challenges England faced in 2012 when they toured Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka scored 275 in their first innings, after 111.1 overs as Graeme Swann and James Anderson did the damage for the visitors with the ball. Then Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott scored half-centuries.
Cook fell 6 short of a well-deserved hundred. However, it was the swashbuckling batting of Kevin Pietersen that put England in the box seat in the 2nd Test at Colombo. In challenging conditions and on a pitch helpful to the spinners, Pietersen hammered the Sri Lankan spinners to all parts of the Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo. He was magnificent.
The heat was so bad that KP had to play an unconventional innings, and in three and a half hours he constructed a masterpiece. He helped England post 460 and gain a valuable lead of 185. England bowled Sri Lanka out for 278 in 118.5 overs in their 2nd innings. England chased down 97 and won the 2nd Test by 8 wickets to level the 2-match Test Series.
The KP – Dilshan Feud
Pietersen hit 6 massive sixes and 16 audacious fours. He went after Rangana Herath, Suraj Randiv and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Herath and Randiv leaked over 100 runs for the innings. Pietersen pulled off a switch-hit off Tillakaratne Dilshan which irked the off-spinner. Randiv bowled 17 deliveries to Pietersen and leaked 39 runs.
Pietersen went at over a strike rate of 100 against Dilshan. The pair had altercations, and the umpire warned Pietersen for attempting prematurely attempting switch-hit against Dilshan.
Kevin Pietersen had a control rate of 96% on a slow surface where even Sri Lankan legend, Mahela Jayawardene had to grind out a hundred. The masterclass KP put on during that Test was worth watching. The footwork, the shot selection, the intent, the class and power with which Pietersen batted at the P Sara Stadium in Colombo in that match was outstanding.
The 151 he scored in the 2012 series vs SL ranks number five on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
6. 142 off 157 balls: 20 fours, 3 sixes vs Sri Lanka, Edgbaston, 2006.
Muttiah Muralitharan is the greatest off-spinner to have played the game. The manner in which Murali got revolutions on the ball and an unbelievable amount of turn from the pitch was unbelievable. Murali had every trick in the book and one would need to have a lot of class and skill to deal with a great like Murali.
In 2006, Sri Lanka met England at Edgbaston for the 2nd Test of a 3-match Test-series. In what turned out to be a low-scoring match, England ended up winning the 2nd Test by 6 wickets. They bowled Sri Lanka out for 141 batting first, and in reply England posted 295 and took a valuable lead of 154 runs.
Kevin Pietersen was the difference between both sides. He batted so well on a difficult pitch that had something for the bowlers. The 2nd highest score in the England innings was Andrew Strauss’ 30 off 65 balls. In fact, in both the Sri Lankan and the England first innings, Pietersen was the only batsman to score over 30 runs.
A Team Treble
Pietersen put on three partnerships over 50 for the 3rd, 5th, and 6th wicket with Alastair Cook (56), Paul Collingwood (69), and Andrew Flintoff (52). At one stage Murali had all the fielders on the boundary and had no fielders in the circle in order to counter Pietersen’s aggressive batting.
His most productive shot was the off side drive of the front foot, which yielded 56 runs (10 fours, 1 six). He had a control rate of 75%. KP welcomed Murali with a beautiful lofted straight drive over Murali’s head for six.
Pietersen played the shot of the day off Murali. It is challenging enough to hit Murali for a boundary off a reverse-sweep, but KP executed a switch-hit off Murali and hit the ball over the ropes for six. The crowd cheered that shot and then the next ball, Murali dismissed Pietersen. His dismissal came with a loud groan from the Edgbaston crowd. KP pulled off another classy innings and helped his team win the Test.
The 142 he scored in the 2006 series vs SL ranks number six on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
7. 202* off 326 balls: 21 fours, 1 six vs India, Lords 2011.
India came to England as the World Champs and ranked no.1 in Tests in 2011. The 4-match test series seemed like it was going to be a competitive series, but India got hammered 4-0. The 1st test at Lords was a special occasion as it was the 100th Test match between the two teams and the 2000th Test match in cricket history.
England lost both openers to Zaheer Khan with the score at 62. Zaheer was bowling well, but unfortunately, he injured his hamstring and missed the rest of the series after that injury. Then after that England took control of the game. The star was Kevin Pietersen, who hit a superb double-hundred. Pietersen put on partnerships of 98 with Jonathan Trott, 110 with Ian Bell, 120 with Matt Prior and 61 with Graeme Swann.
Early on, he struggled to middle the ball. His 50 took 134 balls, which is by far, the slowest of his career. Despite the early struggles, Pietersen was diligent and ended up reaping the rewards. His 100 came off 216 balls, which was his slowest hundred. This was his first ton on home soil since 2008 against South Africa, which he scored in his 1st game as captain. Then Pietersen shifted gears.
A Change In Gears?
He took 75 deliveries to go from 100 to 150, then it took 25 deliveries for Pietersen to go from 150 to 200. He ripped into the Indian bowling attack. Three of the main Indian bowlers, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, and Harbhajan Singh all conceded over 100, with the latter two going wicketless.
Harbhajan went for over 150. Pietersen had a control rate of 81%, and his most productive shot was the leg glance, which yielded 53 runs including 4 fours. Absolute class from KP once again.
The 202 he scored vs India in the 2011 series ranks number seven on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
8. 226 off 262 balls: 24 fours, 2 sixes vs West Indies, Headingley, Leeds, 2007.
Amazingly, this was KP’s first double hundred. He toyed with the West Indian attack in this Test match. He joined his captain, Michael Vaughan, with the score at 2/91 with both openers back in the hut. The pair put on a partnership of 157 before Vaughan departed after scoring a well-made 100.
Pietersen continued on his merry way, smacking the Windies attack all over Headingley. He was supposed to be out stumped by Denesh Ramdin off Chris Gayle on 20, however, the umpire yelled no-ball. From there onwards there was no looking back for KP.
Pietersen then hit his 50 off 67 deliveries and then needed just another 37 deliveries to move to his 8th Test hundred. Pietersen then calmed down a bit and reached his 150 off 193 balls, which at the time was his 4th score over 150 in Test-match cricket. He then posted his maiden Test double hundred and then ended up on 226 to a sharp catch from Jerome Taylor off Dwayne Bravo.
KP At His Best
He batted for 7 hours and 12 minutes. Kevin Pietersen hit 44 off 42 off Chris Gayle, including 4 fours and a pair of sixes, and 51 off 52 balls from Dwayne Bravo. He spanked 47 off 43 balls from Jerome Taylor. The only West Indian bowler he showed any respect to was Corey Collymore.
Lastly, England finished their innings declaring at 570/7 and bowled the Windies out twice to win the Test match. Michael Vaughan’s team won the match by an innings and 283 runs. It was another KP masterclass and KP was entertaining. Marvellous batting from KP.
The 226 he scored vs WI in 2007 ranks number eight on our list of – Kevin Pietersen’s Best Test Match Innings.
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images