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Cricket: Plaudit-taker Pietersen reflects on a memorable day.

Byline: BY DAVID CLOUGH

KEVIN PIETERSEN knows where he belongs after the Lord's reception for his Test hundred against his native South Africa made him feel "as English as anybody".

Pietersen (104 not out) celebrated his 13th century at the highest level, and fourth on this ground, by twice leaping high and punching the air to acknowledge the reaction from a full house at the home of cricket.

His runs rescued England from a significant wobble - three wickets fell for three runs - as he and fourth-wicket partner Ian Bell (75no) shared an unbroken stand of 192 to reach stumps on 309 for three on day one of the four-Test series.

But for the 28-year-old, yesterday was about more than just a cricket context - it was a culmination of his odyssey to establish his world-class talent in red, white and blue rather than green and yellow.

It is eight years since Pietersen gave up on making it for South Africa and decided England offered him a fairer shot at international cricket.

It is three years since he took his first steps at that level with three hundreds in a one-day international series in South Africa - and it is a little less than three years since his maiden hundred helped England clinch the Ashes in front of a packed Oval.

All those memories came flooding back as he reflected on yesterday's innings.

"That's on a par with the 2005 Ashes, walking off after that 158," he said.

"Today it was the way the crowd and the spectators here at Lord's appreciated my hundred and supported me - when I walked out to bat they were brilliant - and the way I got my hundred.

"I tried to go back after my first celebration, and the crowd were still celebrating. It's one of the most emotional two minutes of my career so far.

"It's exactly the same feeling I had in the 2005 Ashes.

"The crowd just kept going. I had to pull away again and say thank you and show my appreciation," he said.

"That makes me feel oh so loved now."

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Ton-up Pietersen jumps for joy
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 11, 2008
Words:355
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