Cricket: Alastair Cook hailed Kevin Pietersen today as England levelled the Test series against India following an “incredible” performance.
On the back of Pietersen’s brilliant 186 and Cook’s fourth successive century in as many matches as England Test captain, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann exploited a spinners’ pitch expertly for a 10-wicket victory in little more than three days at the Wankhede Stadium.
Panesar finished with a career-best 11 wickets in the match and Swann eight, as India were bowled out for 142, despite Gautam Gambhir’s determined 65.
Their contributions earned the captain’s praise but there was no question it was Pietersen who altered the direction of the match with his supreme batsmanship in a double-century stand with Cook on days two and three.
“There are not many people in the world who could do what Kev did,” Cook said.
“It was the difference between the two teams. He took the game away from India.”
Without Pietersen England might easily have lost, even accounting for Cook’s admirable contribution as each took his century tally to 22.
But Cook also emphasised collective resilience — after England’s defeat in Ahmedabad last week — as a telling factor.
“It’s been an incredible three and a half days from the lads — with the character we have shown from last week. We could have let our heads drop down but we came here, worked as hard as we could in the nets and we took that belief and form we needed into the game.
“That is as good a game as I have been involved in for England.”
Meanwhile home captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni praised Panesar.
He said: “In this Test match, Monty was different to all the other bowlers. All the other bowlers were getting enough bounce and turn, but Monty was bowling at pace — close to 90/95kmh — and was still able to get some turn.”