India strike back after Pietersen ton

England skipper Kevin Pietersen struck a majestic 15th Test century before India fought back to take two late wickets on the third day of the second and final Test on Sunday.

Pietersen stroked an aggressive 144 and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff a patient 62 before both fell in the last two overs of the day to reduce England to 282-6, replying to India’s first-innings 453 all out.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh trapped Pietersen leg before and Flintoff was caught off bat-pad against leg spinner Amit Mishra in what turned out to be the final delivery of the day.

England were 171 runs behind with nightwatchman James Anderson on one.

Pietersen struck 17 fours and a six in his 201-ball effort spanning five hours, rescuing England from two for one run in the second over of their innings.

He raised 149 runs for the fifth wicket with Flintoff after adding 103 runs for the third wicket with opener Alastair Cook, who made 50.

Pietersen braved a cracked rib to play forceful shots, included a stunning switch-hit six against Harbhajan over extra cover. It was his third Test century against India.

He also completed 1 000 Test runs in 2008 and became the joint third-fastest England player to reach the 4 000-run mark.

Indian new ball bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma struck in their first two overs to dismiss in-form opener Andrew Strauss (0) and the struggling Ian Bell (1) respectively.

Zaheer then removed the well-set Cook and leg-spinner Amit Mishra claimed Paul Collingwood (11) to reduce the tourists to 131-4 during the extended afternoon session.

Indian opener Gautam Gambhir top-scored with 179 and Rahul Dravid hit 136, his 26th Test hundred, in the Indian innings.

The hosts won the first Test by six wickets.—Reuters

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