Kevin Pietersen struck vital blows with bat and ball against Australia on Monday as England moved into a winning position in the second Ashes Test.
After scoring a career-high 227 in England’s first innings of 620 for five declared, Pietersen dismissed Michael Clarke for 80 in the last over to seriously dent Australia’s resistance and leave the hosts hoping that forecast rain on Tuesday will wash out the fifth and final day.
Australia was 238-4 at stumps on day four, still 137 adrift with three sessions remaining. Clarke and Mike Hussey (44 not out) put on 104 for the fourth-wicket before the Australian vice-captain pushed a ball from Pietersen to Alastair Cook at short leg. The umpire initially rejected England’s appeals but the decision was successfully challenged in a fitting finish to a brilliant day for Pietersen.
His double century helped England to a 375-run first innings lead and exposed even more concerns for Australia’s misfiring bowling attack, which has taken only six wickets at a cost of more than 1,100 in England’s last two innings.
Before Pietersen’s breakthrough, despite pressure from Graeme Swann, who bowled 34 straight overs from the Cathedral End and Steven Finn, England had rarely troubled the Australian fourth-wicket pair before or after the 57-minute postponement for bad light and heavy rain in the third session.
Earlier, Simon Katich (43), Ricky Ponting (9) and Shane Watson (57) fell during the middle session to leave Australia three down at tea. The Australia openers had survived unscathed until lunch before Swann struck twice shortly after the resumption.
He had Katich caught behind to a ball moving away from the left-hander. Ponting played positively hitting Swann for two boundaries before he was deceived by a top-spinning delivery and edged to Paul Collingwood at slip.
Stuart Broad dropped a tough caught-and-bowled chance from Watson after the ball was driven back at him. Shortly afterwards the fast bowler left the field with a strained stomach muscle and did not bowl for the rest of day four.
Watson didn’t last much longer before he nicked Finn to Andrew Strauss at slip. Finn was England’s most dangerous paceman, and particularly troubled Hussey with reverse swinging deliveries.
Earlier in the day, England added 69 runs in 41 minutes to its overnight score of 551-4 but elected not to push to surpass its highest ever total batting in Australia: 636 all out scored in Sydney in 1928. Ian Bell ended the innings on 68 not out, Prior scored 27 off just 21 deliveries.
Keywords: Ashes series