Man of the day

Back in 2005 Kevin Pietersen secured England the Ashes with his maiden Test century, made under intense pressure, at the Oval.

Last Updated: 25/08/13 at 20:53 Post Comment

Eight years on and at the ground he now calls home, the 33-year-old once again stole the spotlight on the final day of the series. With the hosts chasing 227 from 44 overs in the last session of Test cricket in the summer, Pietersen simply seemed primed for the occasion.

When Alastair Cook was dismissed for 34, trapped leg before by James Faulkner, not many in the crowd wanted his review of the initial decision to be successful.

The paying public wanted Pietersen, and he did not disappoint them.

Cheered to the crease, he quickly built on the platform provided by the top three with some punishing strokes, starting with a pair of boundaries off Faulkner that signalled his intentions almost from the off.

He greeted Mitchell Starc's return to the attack with a real dismissive drive. Yes, the delivery was full, but few others in world cricket would have hit it down the ground with such a mixture of style and sheer brute force.

The right-hander registered his half-century from a mere 36 deliveries, making it the fastest by an England batsman in Ashes history. His innings did lose a little impetus after that before he eventually perished for 62, well held at long-on by David Warner.

Perhaps it wasn't quite the 158 he hit back in '05, made against the likes of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee and Shane Warne. But this knock epitomised not only his importance to England but also the fact he is box office.

At his departure England needed 64 from the remaining 59 balls, though in the end their hopes were not dashed by a clatter of wickets or a plethora of dot balls but instead by the conditions. Once the brightest star of day five had been extinguished, the light faded and the game was drawn.

Yet when bad light meant the game ended with the hosts 21 short and four overs still to be bowled, the home team weren't too bothered. The job had been done, the series was already won and it was time to celebrate their hard work throughout the summer and before.

In the midst of their congratulations Pietersen spoke to Sky Sports on the balcony, telling Ian Ward of the run chase: "We had to give it a go, we wanted to entertain."

Entertain he certainly does, and few do it better in the sport than KP.

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