Friday 21 March 2008 

Pietersen Returns To Form With Century In Napier

England 240-7 (Pietersen 129, Broad 42no, Southee 3-46) v
New Zealand in Napier

Series level at 1-1
John Pennington/Richard Reardon

There was a welcome return to form for Kevin Pietersen, who scored 129, as England closed day one of the third and final Test against New Zealand on 240 for seven in Napier.

But for Pietersen's 11st Test century, England would have struggled to post a competitive score and still have some way to go if they are to force themselves into a dominant position.

New Zealand will feel the happier side having picked up seven wickets on a pitch supposedly suited to batting with three going to debutant Tim Southee. He struck with his 11th ball in Test cricket, trapping England captain Michael Vaughan in front for two with the ball swinging around unpredictably early on. Vaughan was plumb and struggled against Southee's unconventional action.

He then had Andrew Strauss caught by Jamie How in the gully for a duck with his third wicket Pietersen, dismissed by the same combination after facing 207 balls, hitting 12 fours and a six.

England's middle order yet again failed to fire, with Ian Bell (nine), Paul Collingwood (30) and Tim Ambrose (11) unable to offer Pietersen, the first English batsmen to hit a first innings century since Collingwood against the West Indies in Durham in 2007, any real support.

Bell gave Grant Elliot his first Test wicket when he appeared to have too much time to play a pull shot and only ended up spooning the ball back to the bowler. Pietersen aside, England's batsmen were undone by a lack of positivity and footwork, traits which saw them in trouble in the first Test in Hamilton.

It was left to Stuart Broad, who remains 42 not out, to add 61 for the seventh wicket for Pietersen, who was the last wicket to fall in the day with just under seven overs remaining. Broad hit five fours and a six and any hopes England have of getting to 300 and beyond rest with the young left-hander registering a maiden Test half-century tomorrow morning.

Nevertheless, 240 for seven represents something of a recovery after they were four for three in the morning session when Alastair Cook (two) had edged Chris Martin onto his stumps, but England are disappointed not to have made better use of winning the toss.

"The guys are disappointed," Pietersen said.

"But as I say, we have got 240 on the board and are not completely out of it. If we get to 300-320. If we put on 100 (more) maybe then anything can happen.

"Everybody was expecting it (the wicket) to be pretty flat. It looked flat but it looks like it has a bit of softness underneath.

"The occasional ball seamed (and) I thought Southee bowled okay and he put the ball in the right area.

"Fair play to him on his debut. He bowled really well, which is encouraging for New Zealand."

Southee himself was pleased with his first day as a Test cricketer.

"We thought we'd have to work hard for them so to pick up early wickets in any game is good," the 19-year-old said.

"To have then three for hardly anything was a good effort.

"It was good to get Vaughan early and it was good to get Pietersen at the end, he played well to get a hundred.

"I enjoyed them both."

The series is level 1-1 after New Zealand won in Hamilton and England hit back in Wellington.

New Zealand: Matthew Bell, Jamie How, Stephen Fleming, Ross Taylor, Mathew Sinclair, Grant Elliot, Brendon McCullum (wk), Daniel Vettori (c), Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Chris Martin

England: Alastair Cook, Michael Vaughan (c), Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Tim Ambrose (wk), Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad, Monty Panesar, James Anderson

� Cricket World 2008

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