Kevin Pietersen pleased with hard work at Lord's

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen had a scratchy start to his innings but was in full flow by the end

Kevin Pietersen said he had never worked harder for England after his unbeaten 202 put the hosts in charge of the first Test against India.

Pietersen was at the crease for eight hours but struggled with the conditions on Thursday and his first 50 was the slowest of his international career.

"Last summer was real tough with Pakistan's [Mohammad] Asif and [Mohammad] Amir," he said.

"But Thursday's conditions were some of the hardest I've ever batted in."

For long periods of his innings Pietersen was forced to fight just to stay at the crease and he struggled as the ball swung both ways off the Lord's pitch.

But the 31-year-old showed great patience as he went on to play what TMS pundit Jonathan Agnew described as an "extraordinary innings", recording his first century on home soil since August 2008 as England declared on 474-8.

"You have to go through the gears and it was just a complete innings where I got myself in and played straight and was lucky to miss a few balls that were really well bowled," he added.

Pietersen was reprieved on 49 when a borderline catch by Rahul Dravid off the bowling of wicketkeeper MS Dhoni was sent upstairs and survived a review.

"Playing against Dhoni was probably the hardest part of the innings," he admitted.

"I thought I heard it bounce but you have to use the technology. Rahul is a great servant of Indian and world cricket and a real legend of the game so if the technology is there and you are unsure you should use it.

"Rahul said he wasn't sure and that's no problem and there is no way in this world he would try to cheat."

Pietersen came into the game after a week's holiday in Spain and he admitted he is feeling the benefits of the break.

"It was nice to get away from here and come back fresh and work on my fitness and come here mentally fresh and raring to go," he added.

"There's some nice compliments floating around the dressing room at the moment over that innings and I'd put it somewhere near the top of all my centuries. "

India will resume on 17 without loss and Pietersen acknowledged England must do well in the field to try and force a result.

But he held out some hope that the ball would continue to move sideways to put the pressure on a distinguished Indian batting line-up.

"It's difficult to say [if England will win] history says it's quite difficult to win Test matches at Lord's," he said.

"But the wicket is still offering a lot to the seamers. It's swinging and, if it's swinging, that is alien to Indian batsmen.

"Having been put in and scored 474, we're in a pretty good position. It would have been interesting if India had batted yesterday and where we'd have been."

Praveen Kumar joined Pietersen on the Lord's honours board after shouldering the burden of injured seamer Zaheer Khan to claim five wickets.

"It was a dream to play here, it was a good feeling," said the 24-year-old, who played alongside Pietersen for two years at the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

"The weather was nice and it felt really nice to get the five wickets. After taking four I was very confident of getting the fifth. It was not about pressure, it was about motivating myself and working hard."