Kevin Pietersen claimed a personal milestone against Australia yesterday as he and Paul Collingwood helped keep England on track in the opening day of the first Ashes Test against Australia. Pietersen's 69 was enough to make him England's top scorer at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, and also go over the 1,000 run mark in Test matches against Australia. He became the fifth-fastest England player to reach the mark, as he helped settle England nerves.
England's problems had started in the eighth over when a stunning catch from Mike Hussey saw Alastair Cook dismissed for 10 runs from 25 balls. Ravi Bopara, who came to the crease following Cook's exit, and the captain Andrew Strauss steadied the ship but fell within five overs of each other. Strauss was caught by Michael Clarke at slip following a bouncer from Mitchell Johnson. Their exit left England at 90 for three, and needing a good partnership from Pietersen and Paul Collingwood to get back on track.
That is exactly what they provided with some disciplined batting. By the time Australia next took a wicket, Collingwood caught by Brad Haddin from Ben Hilfenhaus, England had 228 runs on the board. It was a massive confidence boost for the hosts, who were not put out of their rhythm when former captain Pietersen went with the score on 241 for five. Andrew Flintoff, who personified England's spirit in the 2005 series win, and Matt Prior created an instant big-hitting partnership.
Australia struck what may be a decisive blow in the last few overs when Peter Siddle bowled Flintoff and Prior to leave England on 336 for seven at the close of play. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Full day's report, s2-3 Scorecard, s15