London: It was on this ground three years ago that Kevin Pietersen's career reached a plateau of contentment. Against South Africa in 2008, he stroked a century in his first Test appearance against his former countrymen, and declared immediately afterwards that he'd never felt "so loved". On Friday his emotions were ever so slightly different. There was plenty of love, he said, from his grateful colleagues in the dressing room as he basked in the brilliance of his 202 not out, but one sensed that his over-riding emotion was relief.
Relief, in the first instance, that India's belated acceptance of Hotspot technology allowed him to escape the humiliation of becoming MS Dhoni's first Test wicket. Relief, also, that Rahul Dravid's scooped catch at leg slip on 49 was turned down by the TV umpire. But relief, ultimately, that in the course of a 326-ball stay that comprised three distinct tiers of confidence and aggression, he was able to crush the last of the many hoodoos that have laid his career low in recent times.
For the first time since that summer of love three years ago, Pietersen has recorded a century on home soil. It's not, in his own singular mind, an especially big deal, for he had threatened to do just that throughout a series of burgeoning form against Sri Lanka. All the same, the manner in which he broke through was typical of the man and his talents. For the third time in his career but the second time in eight months, Pietersen translated a solid start into an explosive double-century finish, as if his recent lean times had taught him the value of seizing the moment.