Pietersen recalls delight at outfoxing Dhoni at The Oval
Former England star Kevin Pietersen says taking the wicket of Mahendra Singh Dhoni at The Oval in 2007 was one of the best moments of his career.
England were facing India in the third Test of the series at the iconic cricket ground when Pietersen famously dismissed Dhoni for 92.
During a recent visit to The Oval, the 41-year-old discussed playing at the venue and picked out his head-to-head with Dhoni as one of his most memorable moments.
“Alastair Cook was under a high ball (at deep square leg),” he told Betway. “And guess who the batter was? Mr Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“He’d knocked me for a monster six. Almost went out of the ground into the Thames – gone. I held the next one back.
“(Pointing to his pocket) MS, I am afraid to say, you’re in there, I am not in your pocket.”
Dhoni’s 92 featured nine fours and four sixes and came off just 81 balls. The game ended as a draw, but India won the series 1-0 – the last time they triumphed in a Test series on English soil.
Although England were left empty-handed on that occasion, they enjoyed better fortunes two years earlier in an Ashes series against Australia.
England were aiming to end a 16-year wait to claim the urn, and went into the final test at The Oval holding a 2-1 lead over the visitors.
Australia looked well-placed to secure victory, as they were just 133 runs behind with five wickets to get at lunch on the fifth day.
They had already dropped Pietersen twice and it seemed likely that the England star’s recklessness would cost his team the chance of victory.
However, Pietersen treated Australia’s fearsome bowling attack with contempt, smashing 15 fours and seven sixes on the way to a staggering 158 runs.
His efforts helped England secure the draw they needed to win The Ashes and end Australia’s dominance in the head-to-head.
Despite staying true to his attacking principles, Pietersen admitted that he was not confident about England’s chances when he came out to bat.
“In the Ashes in 2005, I came down here and I was in a panic,” he added. “I had absolutely no time at all to even think about batting.
“(Glenn) McGrath was bowling. I was lucky enough to get that 158. Michael Vaughan lifted the urn for England for the first time in 16 years.
“When I came back up the stairs after that 158, it was absolute chaos. To just be swamped as players, by the fans. You want to experience it.”
The atmosphere at The Oval as England clinched victory in the series was electric, and undoubtedly played a key role in inspiring Pietersen’s epic innings.
He admits that the history of the ground and the way the fans engage with the players makes The Oval a ‘truly unique’ sporting venue.
“You start to get those goosebumps and, I tell you, you just want to perform,” said Pietersen. “When you get the opportunity to come to The Oval, it means so much to you.
“There’s not too many grounds where you actually walk straight through the fans – where the fans can touch you.”