Pietersen begins to benefit from more time being spent in the middle

Kevin Pietersen's return to county cricket seems to be paying off after he made his first hundred in any format for 18 months as Surrey tied a thrilling Clydesdale Bank 40 clash with Sussex Sharks on Saturday.

Pietersen, who is finishing the season by playing four games in a two-week loan spell at Surrey after he was dropped from England's one-day squad, made 116 in front of a crowd of around 5,000 at Hove.

It was Pietersen's first domestic one-day hundred for seven years and he never looked in any trouble even though the Sussex attack contained three players with Test experience. He came in to face the fifth ball of the innings after Surrey skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown had holed out to deep square leg after hitting the first three balls from James Kirtley for four.

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Pietersen shared a second-wicket stand of 105 in 17 overs with Jason Roy although it was the youngster who played more aggressively, making a one-day best 60 off 49 balls with seven fours and a six before he was eventually bowled by Monty Panesar.

Apart from those two, nobody in the Surrey side scored more than 18 and Pietersen had to watch a succession of wickets fall at the other end, one of which was mainly his responsibility.

In the 20th over he took a very risky single after pushing the ball into the off side and Gary Wilson was left well short of his ground as Joe Gatting ran in from cover and broke the stumps.

Stewart Walters was also run out for a duck, although Pietersen could not be blamed on that occasion as he rightly turned down his partner's call for a single and Walters was again beaten by Gatting.

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Pietersen took 55 balls for his first 50 runs but just 46 for the next 50 and although he played well within himself there were moments when the confidence and class which has deserted him this summer returned.

He struck eight fours and six sixes, four of them off off-spinner Ollie Rayner, and after reaching his hundred with a single in the 37th over he twice cleared the rope in the next over off successive Kirtley deliveries, the first crunched with raw power through extra cover followed by a straight hit down the ground.

But Kirtley, playing his final game before retiring after 16 years with Sussex, had his revenge when he yorked Pietersen with the next ball, his 116 coming from 105 balls.