London:Captain Kevin Pietersen hit a thrilling century to put England in a powerful position on the second day of the fourth and final Test against South Africa at the Oval on Friday.
Pietersen's dream start as England captain continued when his team took a first innings lead of 122 before James Anderson struck with the fifth ball of the second innings to have South African captain Graeme Smith leg before wicket for nought.
South Africa finished the day on 37 for one, still 85 runs behind. "You can't be a captain when you're batting," he said. "You've just got to go and make sure you try and score as many runs as you can."
Pietersen said the needs of captaincy had not interfered with his normal preparation as a batsman.
"I still did the right amount of work I normally do," he said. "I just have to give that extra time and responsibility to the other players to build the confidence, which keeps me involved that little bit longer at training."
He said playing the game was an enjoyment after the build-up and the media work following his appointment Monday. "I just play the game I love. The nonsense before the game you have to do, the scrutiny that goes with it, the attention, you've got to do it.
"But I was so happy when I flipped the coin yesterday and knew the cricket was on its way."
Pietersen leapt high in the air when he punched Makhaya Ntini through midwicket for the boundary which made him only the fourth England captain to make a century in his first match in charge.
But two balls later he steered Ntini to Jacques Kallis at a wide second slip to be out for exactly 100, made off 137 balls with 15 fours.
He admitted he had been nervous between 90 and 100 but said it was because he was out for 94 in the third Test.
Asked whether he felt it was destiny that he scored a century he said: "Not destiny, just another day. I built an innings, played straight, played in my areas, played a few shots which were funky I suppose. I just got on with it."
Paul Collingwood hit 61 and shared a fourth wicket stand of 108 with Pietersen, while tailender Steve Harmison hit a career-best 49 not out to thwart a strong South African comeback after Pietersen's dismissal.
South Africa clawed their way back into the match after Pietersen was fourth man out with the total on 219. Five wickets fell for 44 runs and at 263 for eight England were only 69 ahead.
But Harmison and Anderson added 53 for the ninth wicket, with Harmison hitting out and seemingly lofting the ball to almost every part of the ground where there wasn't a fielder.
Harmison was denied a maiden Test half-century when he called last man Monty Panesar for a sharp single and Panesar was run out by a direct hit from Paul Harris at cover.
South African opening bowler Makhaya Ntini took five for 94, the 18th five-wicket haul of his Test career, while Jacques Kallis took three for 51.
Pietersen looked in control from the moment he walked out to bat, just four balls into the day's play after the dismissal of Ian Bell.
He stroke selection was excellent as he went to a half-century off 79 balls, punishing the ball predominantly through the on-side. But he had two escapes soon afterwards.
A top-edged hook against Morne Morkel when he had 52 landed dangerously close to Ntini, running from long leg. Nine runs later Pietersen mistimed a pull against Andre Nel and Ntini, at mid-on, turned and made 10m before diving to get his fingertips to the ball.
The only other Englishmen to score centuries in their first match as captain were Archie MacLaren, Allan Lamb and Andrew Strauss.
England made the perfect start to the second innings when Anderson followed a ball which moved away from the left-handed Smith with a delivery which swung in to trap him plumb in front.
When a journalist suggested that captaincy seemed to be easy for Pietersen, he quipped: "I wouldn't say it was easy. It could only get worse. It's something I'm just doing. I'm living and doing exactly what I need to do every single day and I'm just enjoying myself."