Melbourne - Kevin Pietersen has 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
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.
to stumps unbeaten on a fighting 67 off 152 balls, with Tim Bresnan on
one in England's 226 for six.
In doing so Pietersen passed Geoff Boycott
as the fourth all-time England run-getter.
"I think he's
outstanding. He does play an aggressive game and sometimes, like at the
WACA (Perth Test), he gets caught at long on, it doesn't look
particularly great," teammate Ian Bell said.
"But the number of games he's won us in the past, there's not many cricketers like him in world cricket.
morning if you wanted one guy to go out there in the middle to try to
get us up to a competitive score, it would be KP."
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
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.
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
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.
who was superb leading the Australian attack, ended a threatening
67-run partnership when he got Bell to nick an outswinger to Brad Haddin
for 27 off 98 balls in the 73rd over.
During his innings Bell joined Michael Clarke in passing 1,000 runs for the calendar year.
Test centurion Ben Stokes fell late in the day when he edged to Shane
Watson at slip off Mitchell Johnson for 14. He he was followed by Jonny
Bairstow, replacing Matt Prior but bowled by a Johnson snorter for 10.
know if we bowl like we did today we're going to have days like that,
where they're not going to score many runs because we're putting so much
pressure on them and they're not scoring," Harris said.
Australians' tight bowling line restricted the English scoring and
extracted the wickets of opener Michael Carberry and Joe Root in the
Carberry shouldered arms and lost his off-stump to Watson for 38 to waste another good start.
who was dropped in the slips on two, had done all the hard work but was
beaten by terrific movement off the pitch from Watson in the 34th over
of the innings. 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 off 82 balls in the 43rd over.
well-catalogued injury jinx struck again when he was unable to complete
his seventh over late in the middle session and left the ground for
treatment for a right groin problem. He returned to the field late in
the day to take the catch to dismiss Stokes.
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.
In the 19 tosses Clarke has had as Australia skipper it was only the fourth time he has put the opposing team into bat.
dropped vice-captain Prior and named Bairstow as wicketkeeper, while
Monty Panesar was chosen as the specialist spinner following the shock
mid-series retirement of Graeme Swann. In contrast Australia named an
unchanged side for the fourth consecutive Test.