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Pietersen, Flintoff to England's rescue

KEVIN Pietersen's diligent 97 steered England from early peril to a satisfying 236-5 against the West Indies at the end of day one of the first test on Wednesday.

In his first test since being stripped of the captaincy, Pietersen struck 12 fours and a six off 172 deliveries. He helped relieve England from an uncertain 94-4 midway through the day at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica.

"I don't need to prove a point to anybody," he said. "The lads have been fantastic, the dressing room has been magnificent, and I knew it was always going to be."

Allrounder Andrew Flintoff compiled a valuable, unbeaten 43 and shared a fifth-wicket stand of 86 with Pietersen.

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior also chipped in with 27 not out.

Pietersen lost the captaincy because of a falling out with Peter Moores, who lost the national coaching job at the same time last month. Pietersen said the punishment didn't hurt him.

"I was hurt by the way that everybody treated me for four or five days until I basically said what had happened and the truth," he said.

"I'm fine, I just love playing cricket and I love batting. Today, I loved batting, a great challenge out there with a few of the bowlers."

West Indies spinners Sulieman Benn (2-64) and captain Chris Gayle (1-35) kept a tight rein on England after fast bowler Jerome Taylor (1-56) and Daren Powell (1-31) made the initial strikes.

England began badly after winning the toss, losing both openers within the first hour as it slipped to 31-2.


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