Leeds: The second Test between England and South Africa was heading for a draw when a minimum of 45 overs were lost from the fourth day's play after a storm of tropical proportions drenched Headingley. England were left ruing the fact that Kevin Pietersen's sparkling century was unlikely to culminate in a positive result. It was too good an innings to be associated with a damp squib of a game.
Pietersen's innings of 149 ended just two balls into Day 4 when he missed a straight one and was lbw to Morne Morkel. It was as anti-climatic a finish as could be imagined after the fireworks he set off the evening before.
It led to England managing a first innings lead of just six runs as they were dismissed for 425, even though they hoped to score in the region of 500 and apply serious pressure on South Africa's batsmen. In the event South Africa were helped by a combination of England's collapsing tail and tropical-like rain storms in Yorkshire.
South Africa were 39 without loss when play was officially called off for the day at 5.15pm local time, leading by 33 and barring freakish events such as those that happened at the same venue in the Ashes of 1981, the teams will head to Lord's for the third Test on August 16 with South Africa 1-0 up and England having to win to stay on top of the world rankings.
But, when you distance yourself from the inevitability of a boring draw and reflect on Pietersen's 21st Test hundred, it becomes obvious that his innings was far from inconsequential. Remember, England were 173 for four in reply to South Africa's 419 and a sudden collapse and subsequent South Africa victory did not look far fetched.
It was a great shame that his innings, Part II, lasted two balls but such is the nature of KP. He can disappoint and deflate hopes as easily as he can raise them and exceed expectation. Pietersen rated this his best innings, along with the one in Colombo in April, so to him it was even better than his 158 that helped clinch the Ashes in 2005.
It is ironic that that innings at The Oval has such an incredible legacy yet this one will barely be remembered by the masses purely because innings are generally recalled along with a victory, a purpose, an end product, and this game seemingly won't have one.
Matt Prior did his bit to entertain the home spectators who might have hoped for more KP heroics on the penultimate day of the Test. Prior struck 68 from 89 deliveries and received loyal support from Tim Bresnan, who faced 50 balls for his nine runs. It was unfortunate that Stuart Broad (1) did not show the same application before he mis-hit an Imran Tahir long hop to midwicket.
Prior was the ninth man out, caught at fine leg when sweeping Tahir, who then bowled James Anderson having been reverse swept for four the previous ball. Tahir's spell of three for nine in 13 balls finished off the innings only flattered his eventual figures of three for 92.
England's bowlers came out with purpose after lunch seeking quick wickets but could not remove makeshift opener Jacques Rudolph (21 not out), opening in place of the injured Alviro Petersen. Graeme Smith, who was nursing a sore left knee, hobbled to 17 not out. Jacques Kallis was not on the field earlier because of back spasms.