Ranking Kevin Pietersen's Top 25 Innings

Freddie Wilde@@fwildecricketContributor IFebruary 11, 2014

Ranking Kevin Pietersen's Top 25 Innings

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    MATT DUNHAM/Associated Press

    Kevin Pietersen will almost certainly never play for England again. But after almost a decade of outstanding performances for his country there are more than a fair share of brilliant innings to remember. This slideshow collects them together and ranks them from 25-1. 

    Here's to the memories. 

25. 62 vs. Australia, the Oval 2013

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    Match Scorecard

    The last Test innings played in England was typically brilliant from Pietersen. He led England's impressive run-chase on the final day and had he batted for just a handful more balls, England may have won. 

24. 100 vs. the West Indies, Bridgetown 2007

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    Clive Mason/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    Pietersen's 91-ball 100 was crucial in helping England over the line against the West Indies in the 2007 World Cup by just 1 wicket. This was Brian Lara's final professional match. It is apt that KP played this innings as the career of one great entertainer came to an end.

    Sadly there's no YouTube video. 

23. 234 vs. Lancashire, Guilford 2012

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    Clint Hughes/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    This match was essentially dead when Pietersen played the innings but for him it carried great personal significance. Occurring right in the midst of the textgate scandal this innings was just one of a number of occasions when he brought his best game during times of personal trouble.  

22. 103 vs. Deccan Chargers, Delhi 2012

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    Match Scorecard

    KP will continue to ply his trade in the IPL, and he scored his first hundred in the league in 2012 against the Deccan Chargers. 

    A phenomenal hitter, Pietersen has not always translated it into the shortest format—but here was ample evidence of his talent.

21. 227 vs. Australia, Adelaide 2010

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    Match Scorecard

    Pietersen's brutal double-century led the way to England's first Test win of a historic series victory.

    Alastair Cook's run-scoring is better remembered in that series, but Pietersen's runs ensured England got their noses in front.

20. 73 vs. Pakistan, Bridgetown 2010

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    Clive Rose/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    Pietersen's 73 not out guided England past Pakistan in a comfortable victory against a superb bowling attack. 

19. 175 vs. India, the Oval 2011

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    Match Scorecard

    This was during the peak of England's golden period. Ian Bell's 235 rather overshadowed Pietersen's innings, but it was sublime all the same. 

18. 134 vs. Pakistan, Dubai 2012

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    This was Pietersen's last ODI hundred for England. Against a strong bowling attack his century took England over the line in a tight victory. KP scored 31 off 21 balls from wizard spinner Saeed Ajmal. 

17. 99 vs. Bangladesh, Chittagong 2010

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    After scoring just two fifties in 13 innings in late 2009 and early 2010, pressure was beginning to mount on Pietersen and his continuing proclivity to be dismissed by left-arm spinners was ever more bemusing. However, a battling 99 laid to rest any concerns, and it kick started another period of good form. 

16. 47 vs. Australia, Barbados 2010

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    Match Scorecard

    Pietersen was Man of the Tournament in England's victorious 2010 World T20 campaign and in the final his 47, alongside Craig Kieswetter's 50, was influential in seeing England to the target and their first ever major ICC trophy. 

15. 134 vs. India, Lord's 2008

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    Stu Forster/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    This is an oft-forgotten Test match. But were it not for rain, Pietersen's belligerent and battling century would have been the difference in a tightly-fought, low-scoring match. 

    As it was, England could not quite force a victory and India went on steal the series.

14. 100 vs. South Africa, the Oval 2008

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    Hamish Blair/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    This is one of the hundreds that Pietersen holds in the highest regard. In his first match as captain, in front of a sold out crowd, KP's century received a standing ovation. 

    It was a century that promised the start of a successful new era—but the result was not quite what either Pietersen nor England could have imagined.

13. 110 vs. New Zealand, Chester-Le-Street 2008

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    Match Scorecard

    The match that gave birth to the switch-hit. Pietersen's historic 110 carried England to a thumping victory.

    The switch-hit saw Pietersen change his stance, effectively becoming a left-hander, before the ball was bowled—and still find enough power to clear the ropes.

12. 158 vs. Australia, Adelaide 2006

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    Hamish Blair/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    Now the innings start to get really tasty.

    This epic innings was played against the great Aussie trio of McGrath, Lee and Warne.

    Pietersen's innings was overshadowed, however, first by a double-ton for Paul Collingwood, and second by the horrendous collapse which followed on day five and saw England tumble towards a 5-0 series loss.

11. 57 vs. Australia, Lords 2005

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    Match Scorecard

    KP's Test debut. While his teammates were flattened by Glenn McGrath, Pietersen stood firm amidst the rubble.

    It was clear even then that he was going to be something extraordinary.

10. 129 vs. New Zealand, Napier 2008

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    Match Scorecard

    Pietersen arrived at the crease with England 4-3 on the first morning of the Test. When he departed 80 overs later, he had scored 129 runs.

    This is perhaps the most underrated innings of Pietersen's career, and possibly it's down to the quality of the opposition.

    But it showed he had the fight and application that some of his detractors questioned when things got tough.

9. 108 vs. South Africa, Bloemfontein 2004

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    Match Scorecard

    Kevin Pietersen was met with a chorus of boos when he stepped out onto the field. He had received a hostile welcome in the first ODI, where the scoreboard read: "Welcome Home Kevin Pietersen." 

    But Pietersen silenced the crowd the best he could in one of the more remarkable displays of self-confidence and bravado seen on a cricket field in recent years. This series was the birth of Pietersen the legend.

8. 62* vs. Pakistan, UAE 2012

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    Gareth Copley/Getty Images

    Match Scorecard

    One of Pietersen's greatest limited-overs innings was this near faultless innings against Pakistan in the aftermath of a humiliating 3-0 Test whitewash against the same team. KP hit 6 fours and 1 six in this pulsating knock on a difficult pitch in a winning cause.  

7. 202* vs. India, Lord's 2011

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    Match Scorecard

    England were at the peak of their powers, and Pietersen his. On a perfect day at Lord's in the 2,000th Test ever played, Pietersen's power pulling and driving was staggering. This was a raw innings of visceral urges and punishing efficiency on the grandest of stages. 

6. 142 vs. Sri Lanka, Edgbaston 2006

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    Match Scorecard

    Into the top six, and into the true classics. 

    This audacious and, at times, breathtaking century against Muttiah Muralitharan and Sri Lanka saw Pietersen conquer the other great spinner of the age after slaying Warne the previous year. Shimmering footwork and wristy flicks characterised this truly unique innings. 

    Skip to 5:45 to watch one of the greatest shots Pietersen ever played. Then remind yourself of Pietersen's age and inexperience at this point. Then remind yourself of Murali's. Then watch it again. Staggering. 

5. 91 vs. Australia, Bristol 2005

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    Match Scorecard

    The first great innings Pietersen played on English soil was one of his best ever. Given the occasion, given the match situation, given the pressure of that great summer, the manner of his domination is quite staggering. 

    England had slipped well behind the required run rate when Pietersen exploded into life. It was the sort of knock that gave the crowds confidence that the Ashes would at last be closely contested.

4. 149 vs. South Africa, Headingley 2012

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    Match Scorecard

    This innings is not helped by the fact the match ended in a draw due to rain and, in fact, it was merely one innings in a series in which England relinquished their No. 1 ranking.

    But such was the brutal sublimity of his destruction it is impossible for it not to be highly regarded. 

    Geoffrey Boycott—normally an outspoken pundit—was left speechless as Pietersen clattered the world's best bowler, Dale Steyn, to all corners of the ground.

    There were moments in this innings that you had to watch twice to believe they actually happened. It really was that good.

3. 151 vs. Sri Lanka, Colombo 2012

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    Match Scorecard

    This was the first of the great trio of innings Pietersen played in 2012. After a winter of discontent against spin, Pietersen banished his demons with trademark aggression and chutzpah in a scintillating display of batting.

    As the scorecard above shows, nobody came close to touching Pietersen's strike rate or run-scoring in this sensational display.

2. 158 vs. Australia, the Oval 2005

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    Match Scorecard

    Pietersen will probably be remembered for this, his first Test hundred, more than any other innings. This brutal decimation of Australia won perhaps the greatest Test series of all time for England.

    Pietersen rode his luck early in the innings but capitalised in spectacular fashion. The hooked sixes off Shaun Tait are imprinted on every England fans' memory. An innings inscribed into sporting folklore.

1. 186 vs. India, Mumbai 2012

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    Perhaps the greatest innings ever played in an England shirt.

    Pietersen came to the crease with England 68-2 in their first innings, batting after India's effort of 326.

    England had lost the first Test in Ahmedabad comprehensively, succumbing dramatically to spin bowling, and when Pietersen walked to the crease, the match, the series and perhaps even the England team had reached a critical juncture. 

    The pitch was by no means easy to bat on, but Pietersen paid no regard to this and masterfully took apart the Indian bowling attack. One bowler at a time, he pummelled the hosts into submission.

    It was the beginning of England's historic series comeback and eventual victory, an innings that staved off a winter of misery and Pietersen's ultimate riposte to those who said he should never have played again following the text-gate saga. 

    This innings is unforgettable.