Cook holds firm as Pietersen makes cameo
Kevin Pietersen provided the brief panache, and Alastair Cook the necessary substance, in their opening gambits on England's tour of India.
For Pietersen, returning after his summer of discontent and successful 'reintegration' with vexed management and team-mates, a flighty 23 - complete with eerily appropriate dismissal to old adversary Yuvraj Singh - was notable.
For Cook, embarking on his first Test tour as permanent captain, it was fitting as well as valuable that he should contribute a trademark 207-ball century to underpin England's 286 for four in reply to India A's 369 all out on day two of three at the Brabourne Stadium.
Cook (112no) brought his powers of concentration and discipline to bear as he first shared an important second-wicket stand of 95 with Jonathan Trott (56) and then an unbroken one of 153 with Samit Patel (82no). The only blemish was an escape on 87 when he edged an attempted cut at Yuvraj and was dropped by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
Yet the only memorable frill from the stoic opener came in the 90s when he leaned on an expertly-placed on-drive off Yuvraj for his 12th boundary - before completing his hundred off Suresh Raina with familiar understatement via a single to mid-off.
Pietersen was in and out, by comparison, in the blink of an eye. Pietersen, batting for his adopted country for the first time since he was dropped for the Lord's Test against South Africa, hit a six over long-off and three fours in a near run-a-ball innings.
India A captain Raina was the man hit for six, and duly replaced himself with Yuvraj - infamously dubbed a "pie-chucker" by Pietersen on England's last Test trip here. Pietersen responded by trying to assert himself against the all-rounder, but slow left-armer Yuvraj had the last laugh on Pietersen when he moved smartly to his left to take a return catch.
Yuvraj was all smiles again soon afterwards when Ian Bell edged him to slip, leaving Cook and Patel with much work to do. England had lost their first wicket with just two runs on the board when Nick Compton endured a false start to his prospective international career with a third-ball duck, pushing forward only to edge new-ball swing behind.
Cook and Trott were then in no hurry as they sought to avoid any more early dramas. Trott completed his 50 with a cut for his ninth four from the seam bowling of Parvinder Awana in early afternoon. Soon afterwards, though, he lost concentration - going back rather than forward to a Raina off-break, to be bowled and set the stage for the Pietersen show.
James Anderson had earlier done his best to hasten that moment too, giving England the perfect start when he had R Vinay Kumar lbw with an inswinger first ball to end the home innings without addition.