The most mercurial player of his generation, Pietersen displayed an uncanny mastery of conditions and of world-class opponents to follow his captain Alastair Cook in equalling the all-time England record for Test centuries. The double-century partnership put the tourists on course for a total of 413 all out, allowing Monty Panesar (five for 61) and Graeme Swann leeway to exploit spinners' conditions at the Wankhede Stadium.
India closed on 117 for seven, just 31 runs in front, on course to lose tomorrow in a series which will then stand 1-1 with two to play.
There was an understatement in much of what Pietersen said afterwards, which contrasted with his supreme batsmanship. "It was a pretty difficult wicket," he said. "You knew that at some stage a ball had your name on it, so to have some [runs] on that was satisfying."
Pietersen's performance will inevitably be set in the context of his long summer of contract wrangles, and his "reintegration" as an England cricketer only after a tortuous series of clear-the-air meetings with management and team-mates. In an environment which prizes the team ethos above all, he was at pains yesterday to stress that his personal glory will count for little without consequent collective success.
"It will mean a lot more if we win tomorrow," he added. "Getting hundreds for England, and especially Cookie going to 22 and then saying to me 'you haven't got far to go, then you're there as well' – it was a special moment. 'The Chef' was magnificent, and it's a great feeling to be at the top of the list with him."
Pietersen infamously claimed only three months ago that it was "not easy being me" in an apparently dysfunctional England dressing room, but is telling a very different tale now.
"The dressing room is absolutely fantastic," he said. "We're sticking together really well, all helping each other out – and not letting things get on top of us."
"If anybody is going through a rough time, everybody else is right behind them. It's a very united dressing room at the moment, and it will be even more so if we manage to pull off a brilliant victory."