Kevin Pietersen’s 12th Test century helped England recover from a slump to reach 273 for seven on the first day of the third and final Test against New Zealand on Thursday.
Pietersen scored 115 for his first Test hundred at Trent Bridge, where he played for four seasons from 2001. He added 161 with wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, who made 67, for the sixth wicket to revive England after they slumped from 84 for two to 86 for five in the space of 13 balls.
England need only to avoid defeat to claim a series victory after drawing at Lord's and winning the second Test at Old Trafford. Pietersen, 27, in his 39th Test, reached his century after tea with a firm drive through cover for four off Chris Martin. He celebrated animatedly by jumping in the air and pumping his fist and was warmly applauded by his former home crowd.
England's afternoon slump began when Andrew Strauss fell six balls after lunch when he abandoned the patient approach he had employed in the morning by chasing a wide Kyle Mills ball to give Ross Taylor a head high catch at first slip for 37.
Ian Bell played across a straight ball and was lbw for nought to Iain O'Brien after lasting just three balls. His fellow middle-order colleague Paul Collingwood, also under pressure after some mediocre recent form, lasted four balls for no runs, edging Mills to Taylor at slip.
Pietersen's confidence grew and his range of stroke-play became more expansive the longer he was in. An off-driven four, a pulled boundary and a flick through mid-on for another boundary, all off paceman Martin, demonstrated this in consecutive overs shortly before tea.
He eventually perished when O'Brien rushed him with the third over of the new ball as his half-hearted push gave Kiwi keeper Gareth Hopkins his first catch on debut. Regular keeper Brendon McCullum is playing solely as a batsman because of a back injury.
England 1st inn (Strauss c Taylor b Mills 37, Cook b Mills 6, Vaughan b O'Brien 16, Pietersen c Hopkins b O'Brien 115, Bell lbw b O'Brien 0, Collingwood c Taylor b Mills 0, Ambrose c Hopkins b O'Brien 67, Broad batting 15, Anderson batting 1; Extras - b-4, lb-8, nb-4 - 16). Total (For 7 wkts, 90 overs) 273
Fall of wkts: 1-14, 2-44, 3-84, 4-85, 5-86, 6-247, 7-262.
Bowling: Martin 12-1-61-0, Mills 24-7-58-3, O'Brien 20-4-61-4, Oram 17-6-26-0, Vettori 17-0-55-0.