Pietersen leads England to consolation win

Kevin Pietersen celebrated his first Test as England captain with a consolation six-wicket victory over South Africa in the fourth and final Test on Monday.

Andrew Flintoff (11 not out) hit the winning runs with a straight six as he and Paul Collingwood (25 not out) steered the home side to 198 for four.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook put on 123 for the first wicket, with Cook (67) taking charge until he edged Makhaya Ntini to South Africa skipper Graeme Smith at first slip shortly after lunch.

Pietersen, who took over from Michael Vaughan as captain last week, had been keen to salvage pride against the country of his birth after South Africa won the series by going 2-0 up in the third Test at Edgbaston.

After scoring a century in England’s first-innings 316, Pietersen came to the crease to rapturous applause with the score on 147 for two after Ntini had bowled Ian Bell round his legs for four.

Strauss (58) was also out with the total on 147, nicking spinner Paul Harris to Smith at leg slip.

Pietersen failed to take his side home, scoring 13 before pushing a catch to Neil McKenzie off Harris, but by then England were only 15 runs short of victory.

Cook’s innings, the ninth time he has been out in the 60s, included 12 fours. Strauss, who has been struggling for runs, hit six fours in a more cautious knock.

The opening pair began conservatively in the face of aggressive bowling from Ntini. Morne Morkel at the other end was more wayward.

Morkel did entice Strauss into chipping a catch to Ashwell Prince at leg gully but his foot was over the line for a no ball.

Free scoring
Having seen off the new ball, the openers then played with more freedom. The first 50 took 103 balls but the 100 came 15 minutes before lunch after only 55 more deliveries.

Collingwood followed suit after lunch, peppering the boundary while Pietersen was more circumspect.

South Africa’s win at Edgbaston prompted the tearful resignation of Michael Vaughan, and Pietersen has since looked confident in charge.

The visitors, who won at Headingley and Edgbaston after a drawn Test at Lord’s to claim a first series win in England since 1965, were out of sorts in the first innings, scoring 194.

South Africa continue their tour with a Twenty20 match in Durham on August 20 and a series of five one-day internationals.

Pietersen will also take charge of the limited-overs team after Collingwood resigned his captaincy of the one-day side at the same time as Vaughan quit as test skipper. — Reuters

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