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Kevin Pietersen warms up for Test series with a century

Star England batsman Kevin Pietersen prepared himself for the upcoming Test series with a strokeful 110 against Haryana in visitors' final warm-up game even as skipper Alastair Cook missed out on his second consecutive ton, at Ahmedabad on Thursday.

Pietersen smashed a 94-ball 110 before retiring hurt to let his colleagues get some batting practice as England reached a strong 408 for three on day one of the game.

Left-handed Cook, who did not play against Mumbai A, yet again batted splendidly but missed out on his century by three runs after electing to bat. Ian Bell (57) and Samit Patel (11) were at the crease when stumps were draw for the day at Sardar Patel Stadium B Ground.

Bell has already smashed nine boundaries, including three sixes in his innings.

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen in action during his innings against Haryana. Pic/AFP

Except for skipper Amit Mishra, none of Haryana's bowlers has played international cricket and both Pietersen and Cook relished the batting practice ahead of the Test grind. Mishra took two of the three England wickets to fall.

Pietersen, who hit 16 fours and three sixes, is the fourth England batsman to hit a century after arriving in India with Cook and Samit Patel reaching the three-figure mark against India A. Reserve wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow had stroked his way to a hundred against Mumbai A in the last game.

Cook, who was dropped early in his innings, scored a boundary-filled 97 with 18 hits to the fence. Nick Compton (74) also staked a claim for the opening slot in the first Test with his second successive half-century. The two openers put on 166 before Cook was caught by wicket-keeper Sandeep Singh off spinner Jayant Yadav.

Jonathan Trott replaced the skipper at the wicket and he too got some runs under his belt ahead of the first Test. In the company of Compton, Trott added 45 runs before the former was trapped in front of the wicket by leggie Mishra.

Compton, who played 111 dot balls during his stay at the crease, hit nine boundaries and a six in his 144 ball-innings.

The fall of Compton brought Pietersen to the wicket. He began with a boundary, a flick to the mid-wicket off Amit Vashisht before hitting two more crisp boundaries of spinners.
Trott fell leg before wicket to Mishra, his second scalp, immediately after the tea-break for 46, which brought Ian Bell to the middle.

Bell and Pietersen attacked the Haryana bowlers relentlessly and England reached their 300 in the 69th over. Pietersen retired out to allow Samit Patel some time in the middle and get acclimatised to the playing conditions. 

England took the field without injured pace bowlers Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, and frontline spinner Graeme Swann, who flew home on Wednesday to attend to his sick baby daughter.

Finn suffered a thigh strain in the tour opener and Broad bruised his left heel in the second practice match, but scans did not reveal any serious injury for either player.

Both Swann and Broad are expected to feature in the first Test, but Finn remains a doubtful starter.

Paceman Stuart Meaker, who was flown in as a precautionary stand-by, was picked for the Haryana game alongside seamers Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan.

Brief scores:

England 1st innings: 408-3 (Alastair Cook 97, Nick Compton 74, Kevin Pietersen 110 retired out, Ian Bell 57 not out, Amit Mishra 2-50)

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