Saturday, March 2, 2024

Pietersen curbs instincts as Eng crawl towards safety


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Melbourne: Kevin Pietersen played a cautious out-of-character innings and lived a charmed life as English wickets clattered around him on an attritional opening day of the dead-rubber fourth Ashes Test against Australia on Thursday.
Pietersen, under fire for his unproductive batting in England’s troubled series, curbed his natural attacking instincts to keep the pressing Australians at bay before a crowd of 91,092, the highest single-day attendance for any Test match.
Pietersen went to stumps unbeaten on a fighting 67 off 152 balls, with Tim Bresnan not out one in England’s 226 for six. In doing so Pietersen passed Geoff Boycott as the fourth all-time England run-getter.
The subdued Pietersen had some luck along the way and denied the impressive Ryan Harris both times, as England were pinned down by a disciplined Australian bowling attack on a slow scoring day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Pietersen, who took 12 balls to get off the mark, had some good fortune on six when he was caught by fielding substitute Nathan Coulter-Nile at deep backward square leg off Harris.
But Coulter-Nile was unable to stay within the field of play in taking the catch, staggering over the boundary marker, and Pietersen was awarded a six instead.
He had a second “life” on 41 when George Bailey had two goes in a fumbling attempt at a catch off Harris at mid-wicket.
Harris, who was superb leading the Australian attack, ended a threatening 67-run partnership when he got Ian Bell to nick an outswinger to Brad Haddin for 27 in the 73rd over.
During his innings Bell joined Michael Clarke in passing 1,000 runs for the calendar year.
Perth Test centurion Ben Stokes fell late in the day when he edged to Shane Watson at slip off Mitchell Johnson for 14. He was followed by Jonny Bairstow, bowled by a Johnson snorter for 10.
The Australians’ tight bowling line extracted the wickets of opener Michael Carberry and Joe Root in the middle session.
Carberry shouldered arms and lost his off-stump to Watson for 38 to waste another good start.
It was the third time all-rounder Watson had snared Carberry’s wicket in this series. In nine Test innings he has been out six times between 30 and 43.
Harris removed Root with an outswinger, enticing an edge to Haddin for 24 in the 43rd over.
Root, like Carberry, had established himself in an 82-ball stay but Harris’s perseverance won through in a patient bowling performance.
Australian captain Michael Clarke – with an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series and the Ashes already recovered – won the toss and sent the troubled tourists in to bat under overcast skies.
England got to first-hour drinks without losing a wicket but lost skipper Alastair Cook three overs later when he nibbled at Peter Siddle and was caught by Clarke at second slip for 27.
Bairstow replaced Matt Prior as England keeper, while Monty Panesar was brought in for the retired Graeme Swann. Australia are unchanged. (AFP)


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