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Cricket: KP is inspired; Proteas barracking spurs on Pietersen to century.

Byline: By MYLES HODGSON

KEVIN PIETERSEN found inspiration from his fraught relationship with South Africa to deliver another Lord's century and ensure England dominated the first day of the npower Test series.

Ever since Pietersen quit his homeland in protest at the quota system, which he believed was hindering his opportunities, to take his chances with England, he has been a major target for the Proteas.

But on the occasion of his maiden Test appearance against South Africa, Pietersen rose to the challenge and battled through a stormy introduction to claim his 13th Test century to guide England to 309-3 at the close of the first day.

Pietersen is not averse to milking applause, but on this occasion he claims he had no choice.

He said: "The crowd just kept going. I had to pull away again and show my appreciation That makes me feel oh so loved now. Before, there was a lot of speculation about me being originally from South Africa. But for the crowd to be like theywere todaywas absolutelymagnificent.

"I cannot thank anybody enough for that appreciation and that applause."

Pietersen's potential conflict with South Africa had been earmarked as one of the key factors in the four-Test series and after waiting until mid-afternoon for his entrance the drama did not disappoint.

He could have been dismissed twice before he had even reached double figures but recovered his composure to hit a six and 13 fours in his century and helped England recover from losing three wickets in a 13-ball spell by forging an unbroken 192-run stand with Ian Bell.

England had entered the series with a mis-firing top order which had failed to register a first innings total in excess of 400 for 12 successive Tests.

But instead of the South African pace battery enjoying early success after winning the toss in seamer-friendly conditions, their failure to play any Test cricket since April told and they allowed England to enjoy a 114-run opening stand.

It was not until they re-grouped at lunch that the required lines and lengths were hit consistently.

The turning point was a contentious lbwdecision given against AndrewStrauss on 44 from a full-length delivery byMorne Morkel which umpire Daryl Harper failed to spot had pitched outside leg-stump.

Dale Steyn struck just seven balls later with a swinging delivery which smashed Michael Vaughan's stumps as he attempted to clip through mid-wicket. Five balls after that Morkel accounted for Alastair Cook, who had battled for over three hours for his 60.

England had slipped to 117-3 but then Pietersen and Bell were united at the crease.

SUMMARIES: LV County Championship Div Two Worcestershire 146 v Northants 134-6, Twenty20 Cup Quarter Final Kent 175-6 v Warwickshire 133-8 Kent beat Warwickshire by 42 runs TODAY: (11.00 unless stated) First npower Test England v South Africa LV County Championship Div One Durham v Somerset, Hampshire v Lancashire, Kent v Yorkshire, Notts v Surrey Div Two Derbyshire v Leics, Glamorgan v Essex, Gloucs v Middlesex, Worcs v Northants.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2008
Words:501
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