Manchester: Kevin Pietersen was bullish after his carefully compiled century rescued England against a rejuvenated Australia. But Pietersen's ambition extended further than simply avoiding the follow-on, which was still 34 runs away.
"Safety if not winning the Test match - we've seen today that the wicket's still pretty good," he explained. "It's a good enough wicket to still try and get something out of this game if our engine room, as we like to call it, apply themselves tomorrow, and we get us as close as we can to their score. There's no reason why we can't, because we've put a lot of work into their big fast bowlers today."
Australia's attack caused Pietersen plenty of discomfort, particularly at the start of his innings, which he attributed to the movement they were able to extract with the old ball. "It was reverse swinging. It's always tricky to start against reverse swing," he said. "Conventional (swing) is a little bit easier".
Pietersen's most eye-catching batting came when he attacked Nathan Lyon in the afternoon session, but he insisted that it was not a pre-determined plan, stating, "Every spinner I've played against, I've liked to whack".
And he was equally categorical when asked why Australia had found the going with the bat easier than England, saying, "We batted at the end of day two and day three, they batted on day one."
Pietersen was eventually dismissed for 113, but was less-than convinced by the decision, out lbw to Mitchell Starc, then upheld on review. "I thought I heard two noises and also I thought it pitched outside leg," he argued.
But earlier in his innings, he escaped when Australia chose not to review a not-out call, given when a delivery from Shane Watson struck him on the pad in front of the wicket. He revealed that the umpire had explained his reasoning to the players out in the middle: "It's hard for me to say it's going to hit the stumps if he's two metres out his crease". Pietersen himself considered it "a quite funny moment actually, a funny on-field moment".
He was also confident as to his fitness, calling himself "just an old man with sore calves and sore hamstrings". Though deciding not to have surgery before the Ashes was a "big decision", Pietersen was not expecting the problem to flare up again - "not if I keep being as professional as I've been over the last three-and-a-half months". But he does sometimes feel pain when batting, and expects to be in rehab "for the rest of my career".
Meanwhile, Mitchell Starc was also satisfied with his performance on the second day, and particularly with the wicket of Pietersen. "I guess he batted well for his hundred," he conceded. "But we had to make sure he didn't make it a big one."
Starc's pleasure seemed a little more personal than that, too, explaining, "It's always nice to get a big scalp, and it's always nice to get Kevin as well."
But he recognised that winning the Test will be difficult for Australia, admitting, "it's going to be a tough slog bowling" on the last two days.