Kingston:Kevin Pietersen's diligent 97 steered England from early peril to a satisfying 236-5 against West Indies at the end of day one on Wednesday of the first cricket Test.
In his first Test since being stripped of the captaincy, Pietersen struck 12 fours and a six off 172 deliveries. He helped relieve England from an uncertain 94-4 midway through the day at Sabina Park.
"I don't need to prove a point to anybody," Pietersen said. "The lads have been fantastic, the dressing room has been magnificent, and I knew it was always going to be."
Allrounder Andrew Flintoff compiled a valuable, unbeaten 43 and shared a fifth-wicket stand of 86 with Pietersen.
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior also chipped in with 27 not out.
Pietersen lost the captaincy because of a falling out with Peter Moores, who lost the national coaching job at the same time last month. Pietersen said the punishment didn't hurt him.
"I was hurt by the way that everybody treated me for four or five days until I basically said what had happened and the truth," he said.
"I'm fine, I just love playing cricket and I love batting. Today, I loved batting, a great challenge out there with a few of the bowlers.
"I love being in the England dressing room and scoring runs for England and getting us in position from where we can hopefully dominate."
West Indies spinners Sulieman Benn (2-64) and captain Chris Gayle (1-35) kept a tight rein on England after fast bowler Jerome Taylor (1-56) and Daren Powell (1-31) made the initial strikes.
England began badly after winning the toss, losing both openers within the first hour as they slipped to 31-2.
New skipper Andrew Strauss led a charmed life before departing for 7 in the fourth over. The left-hander, dropped on 1, eventually nicked Taylor to wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin at 8-1.
Alastair Cook fell for 4 when he dragged a short delivery from Powell to Ramnaresh Sarwan at mid-on.
Ian Bell and Pietersen rebuilt the innings in a partnership worth 40. But the home team claimed Bell for 28 late in the morning session before England took lunch at 73-3.
Bell hit three fours off 72 balls, crossing 3,000 Test runs just before he edged Gayle's straighter delivery to slip.
Benn and Gayle stalled England after the break and the lanky Benn was finally rewarded for a fine spell when he claimed Collingwood for 16. The Durham batsman swept across the line and was plumb leg before.
Pietersen, who struggled against Benn early, was more forthright after collecting his half-century off 115 balls.
His partnership with Flintoff helped England loosen West Indies' grip.
Pietersen cruised from 83 to 97 in three deliveries from Benn, lashing him straight for two fours before carting over wide mid-on for his first six.
But Benn won the battle when Pietersen tried again to swing to leg and provided a comfortable top-edged catch behind to Ramdin.
Pietersen, in his 46th Test, missed out on his 16th century but had no regrets at his aggressive intent on trying to reach three figures with a six.
"That's how I play," he said. "I'm a great believer in if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. Today wasn't meant to be.
"I've been criticized a lot for the way I play and that's just the way it is."
West Indies had the edge then at 180-5 but Flintoff, recovered from a side strain to make the starting XI, shared a confident, unbroken stand of 56 with Prior before the close.
Flintoff struck three fours off 138 balls while fellow right-hander Prior notched one boundary off 56 deliveries.