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Petersen: It's the toughest wicket I've played Test cricket on

Kevin Pietersen rates his 73 hard-earned runs at Nagpur yesterday as some of the most difficult he has made for England.

The batsman had more than 7000 Test runs to his name going into this match, but rarely has he had to battle so hard for his rewards in his England career as he did on a lifeless pitch negating most attempts at scoring shots.

From the moment he came in at 16 for two, and was immediately taken aback by a short ball from Ishant Sharma which barely beat stump height, Pietersen knew he was in for a struggle. So it proved, but he battled through to help the tourists close day one on 199 for five in 97 overs.

Pietersen admits it is impossible to gauge how well or badly England have fared yet, but he does know he did his best in taxing circumstances. Asked how hard it was to adapt, Pietersen said: "Tough . . . it's the toughest wicket I've played Test cricket on, in terms of trying to play strokes. I think we've done okay at 200 for five. But what the wicket's going to do, I haven't got a clue, because it looks pretty similar now to what it did when we started the day."

He will take no satisfaction from the achievement until it is clear how it measures up in the context of a match England must at least draw to seal a famous series victory.

"It means absolutely nothing until the game is over," he said. "My guess is as good as anyone's as to what that wicket is going to do. I think the key to today was to try to bat for as long as pos-sible, because I don't think that wicket is getting better."

Pietersen's efforts were augmented by those of Jonathan Trott, in their half-century stand, and then by debutant Joe Root and Matt Prior, who had put on an unbroken 60 at stumps. The first evidence of 21-year-old Root's Test potential was encouraging.

"Joe was brilliant," said Pietersen. "He played some lovely cricket shots and has a good head on his shoulders. He's shown signs of what could be a very good Test career. He didn't need too much help. He came in there, and was scoring freely."

Pietersen found it especially tough going against Ishant, responsible for those two early wickets, and is hoping England may have the edge on India with their two frontline seamers to the hosts' one in this match.

"I think we are in a position of strength . . . having two seamers," he said. "Ishant I found incredibly difficult to play. All I know is that scoring was incredibly hard, especially against Ishant, so we hope 'Bressie' [Tim Bresnan] and Jimmy [Anderson] can do us a really good job."

Spectators could have taken little pleasure from watching batsmen chisel out their runs on a pitch hardly devised for entertainment value. It was anything but pretty, but may yet turn out to be as well as England could have done.

The batsman had more than 7000 Test runs to his name going into this match, but rarely has he had to battle so hard for his rewards in his England career as he did on a lifeless pitch negating most attempts at scoring shots.

From the moment he came in at 16 for two, and was immediately taken aback by a short ball from Ishant Sharma which barely beat stump height, Pietersen knew he was in for a struggle. So it proved, but he battled through to help the tourists close day one on 199 for five in 97 overs.

Pietersen admits it is impossible to gauge how well or badly England have fared yet, but he does know he did his best in taxing circumstances. Asked how hard it was to adapt, Pietersen said: "Tough . . . it's the toughest wicket I've played Test cricket on, in terms of trying to play strokes. I think we've done okay at 200 for five. But what the wicket's going to do, I haven't got a clue, because it looks pretty similar now to what it did when we started the day."

He will take no satisfaction from the achievement until it is clear how it measures up in the context of a match England must at least draw to seal a famous series victory.

"It means absolutely nothing until the game is over," he said. "My guess is as good as anyone's as to what that wicket is going to do. I think the key to today was to try to bat for as long as pos-sible, because I don't think that wicket is getting better."

Pietersen's efforts were augmented by those of Jonathan Trott, in their half-century stand, and then by debutant Joe Root and Matt Prior, who had put on an unbroken 60 at stumps. The first evidence of 21-year-old Root's Test potential was encouraging.

"Joe was brilliant," said Pietersen. "He played some lovely cricket shots and has a good head on his shoulders. He's shown signs of what could be a very good Test career. He didn't need too much help. He came in there, and was scoring freely."

Pietersen found it especially tough going against Ishant, responsible for those two early wickets, and is hoping England may have the edge on India with their two frontline seamers to the hosts' one in this match.

"I think we are in a position of strength . . . having two seamers," he said. "Ishant I found incredibly difficult to play. All I know is that scoring was incredibly hard, especially against Ishant, so we hope 'Bressie' [Tim Bresnan] and Jimmy [Anderson] can do us a really good job."

Spectators could have taken little pleasure from watching batsmen chisel out their runs on a pitch hardly devised for entertainment value. It was anything but pretty, but may yet turn out to be as well as England could have done.

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