KP, Bell torment India
Kevin Pietersen (AP Photo)
London - Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen both scored hundreds to leave England in a position of utter dominance against India on the second day of the fourth and final Test at The Oval here on Friday.
England were 457 for three at stumps, with Bell 181 not out after Pietersen fell for 175.
It left England, whose run-fest delighted the bulk of a 23,500 capacity crowd, well-placed to complete a 4-0 series whitewash after replacing India as the world's best Test side with a crushing innings and 242 run victory at Edgbaston last week.
Bell and Pietersen put on exactly 350, surpassing England's previous best partnership against India, also for the third wicket, of 308 shared by Graham Gooch, the team's current batting coach, and Allan Lamb at Lord's in 1990.
It was also England's seventh largest stand for any wicket in all Tests.
But the pair were eventually separated when Pietersen, dropped on 102, fell to a fine return chance by part-time spinner Suresh Raina.
Pietersen's nearly four hour innings featured 27 fours.
England, with the score on 447 for three, then bizarrely sent in nightwatchman James Anderson, three not out at stumps.
Bell had batted for nearly seven hours, striking two sixes and 17 fours.
Both Bell and Pietersen scored their second century of the series Friday, with Bell having made 159 in a 319-run second Test win at Trent Bridge and Pietersen 202 not out in a 196-run first Test victory at Lord's.
Bell's hundred was his fifth in 11 Test innings and 16th in all.
Pietersen's 19th Test century took him level with team-mates Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook and left him just three shy of the England record of 22 shared by Walter Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott.
With Bell batting in classic fashion and Pietersen's innings featuring several unorthodox shots, the pair made the most of ideal, sunny batting conditions on a typically good Oval pitch.
India's attack were unable to sustain the improvement that saw openers Cook and England captain Strauss dismissed in Friday's morning session.
Ishant Sharma needed just five balls to make it 75 for one when he had Cook caught at first slip by Virender Sehwag off a good length ball as England failed to add to their overnight score following a first day where rain meant there was no play after lunch.
Cook, who made a career-best 294 at Edgbaston, was out for 34.
Strauss managed just two runs in an hour Friday against disciplined bowling before, chasing a wide half-volley from seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, he was caught behind by India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 40.
But England really took a toll of India's attack after lunch.
Bell started a sequence of four boundaries in five balls with the aid of a rare misfield by Sachin Tendulkar at deep square leg.
He later struck two cover-driven fours off successive balls, the second on the up, from seamer Sreesanth -- who embarrassingly tried to verbally intimidate Pietersen.
And in what is now a trademark stroke, Bell then late cut Rudra Pratap Singh, a replacement for injured medium-pacer Praveen Kumar -- one of India's few successes this tour.
India took the new ball but it made no difference and Pietersen, 98 not out at tea, went to his hundred off the first ball after the break when he pulled a Sharma long-hop for four
But next ball, trying to repeat the stroke, he got a top-edge only for Gautam Gambhir, running back at mid-on, to drop the two-handed chance.
It was tough on Sharma, who had decent figures of one for 81 in 27 overs at the close.
Bell straight-drove two sixes in as many balls from Amit Mishra and the leg-spinner's 29 wicketless overs thus far had cost 129 runs
England 1st Innings (overnight: 75-0)
A. Strauss c Dhoni b Sreesanth 40
A. Cook c Sehwag b Sharma 34
I. Bell not out 181
K. Pietersen c and b Raina 175
J. Anderson not out 3
Extras (b2, lb7, w6, nb9) 24
Total (3 wkts, 123 overs, 541 mins) 457
To bat: E Morgan, R Bopara, M Prior, T Bresnan, S Broad, G Swann, J Anderson
Fall of wickets: 1-75 (Cook), 2-97 (Strauss), 3-447 (Pietersen)
Bowling: Singh 30-7-96-0 (1nb, 1w); Sharma 27-7-81-1 (1nb); Sreesanth 23-2-95-1 (4nb); Raina 12-1-36-1; Mishra 29-2-129-0 (3nb, 5w); Tendulkar 2-0-11-0
India: Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Venkatsai Laxman, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wkt), Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Rudra Pratap Singh
Umpires: Simon Taufel (AUS) and Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV umpire: Steve Davis (AUS)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)