Pietersen Battles As England Stutter At The MCG
England 226-6 (Pietersen 67no) v
Fourth Ashes Test, MCG, day one
England closed day one of the fourth Ashes Test against Australia in Melbourne on 226 for six after Kevin Pietersen made an unbeaten 67 which kept the tourists afloat.
Pietersen had been criticised by a few former players prior to this match for not putting a price on his wicket. But the South African-born batsman held firm today despite Australia’s relentless bowling attack taking wickets at regular intervals.
England had appeared to be grinding their way towards a position of ascendency as they reached 71 for one at lunch but as has happened so often in this series they were not able to capitalise on a good platform and instead it is Australia who now hold the upper hand at the end of day one.
Australia may have already regained the Ashes but this did not stop their fans from coming out in force to support the Baggy Greens as 90,831 people were recorded as being in attendance at the game, an all time record for a Test match. The record crowd was made to wait a while however before finally in the second hour of play Peter Siddle removed the England Captain Alastair Cook (27), caught at slip by his opposite number Michael Clarke at slip.
Michael Carberry and Joe Root also perished after lunch as England crawled to 135 for three at tea. Harris, who removed Root, was exceptionally economical early on with five of his first six overs being maidens.
The pressure that was being exerted on England was always going to be tricky to negotiate, indeed Kevin Pietersen had two lifelines either side of tea, on the first occasion Nathan Coulter-Nile caught Pietersen on the fine leg boundary but the momentum of the ball carried the sub fielder over the ropes and Pietersen has six to his name.
The other chance came when Pietersen was on 41, he riffled a pull shot to midwicket but George Bailey was not able to cling on to what was a sharp chance.
Bell fell shortly after tea and it looked as though the in-form Ben Stokes and Pietersen would see England through to the close. But Mitchell Johnson, who has been England’s tormentor in this series, struck twice with the new ball removing Stokes (14) and Johnny Bairstow (10) to leave the hosts on top at the end of the first day’s play.
© Cricket World 2013