Pietersen rescues England

Kevin Pietersen hits his 11th test century after England's top order fails.

    Kevin Pietersen celebrates his
    century [GALLO/GETTY]
    Kevin Pietersen found form at the perfect time for England, reaching his 11th test century after a top-order failure on the first day of the third cricket test against New Zealand.

    Pietersen ended a run of 10 test innings without a half century, the longest and leanest streak of his career, to make 129 and guide England to 240 for seven at stumps after it had won the toss and batted.

    His innings was eventually ended by teenage fast bowler Tim Southee, who provoked England's initial collapse and who captured three wickets Saturday in an outstanding test debut.

    Southee stuns

    Southee, who at 19 was the youngest New Zealander to make his test debut since current captain Daniel Vettori started his career at 18 a decade ago, claimed wickets with his 11th and 17th balls in tests to send England's innings into decline.

    His first victim in tests was England captain Michael Vaughan, trapped lbw for two, who had time on his way back to the pavilion to re-examine his decision to bat first at McLean Park, historically one of New Zealand's most batsman friendly venues.

    The pitch, well-grassed but rock hard, seemed to be ideal for batting, Vettori would also have batted had New Zealand won the toss, and Pietersen's essential command in an innings of 293 minutes bore out its positive properties.

    It was Southee's ability to gain movement in the air, from his front-on delivery and high arm action, that undid the England batsmen, that, and their continuing propensity to throw away their wickets to poor shots.

    Vaughan was caught crease-bound by a ball that nipped back from off stump, just beat the inside edge of the bat and hit him adjacent to middle and leg.

    Tim Southee makes a stunning
    debut [GALLO/GETTY]
    He made two, continuing his poor series in New Zealand.

    Andrew Strauss hadn't scored when he chased a ball from Southee leaving him outside off stump, a feat for the right armer bowling to the left hander, and sparred a low catch to Jamie How, diving to his left in the gully.

    Chris Martin then bowled Alastair Cook to claim the third wicket to fall with four runs on the board, leaving England's innings in early disarray.

    Grant Elliott, the South African-born all-rounder who also made a test debut Saturday aged 29, then caught Ian Bell from his own bowling and England was 36 for four.

    Pietersen revival

    The visitors were little improved at 58 for four at lunch but Pietersen guided a steady revival through the second session.

    "We bowled well as a unit," Elliott said. "Tim (Southee) was outstanding and Chris (Martin) as well, then Jeets (Jeetan Patel) came on and bowled a great spell at just the right moment."

    Patel took two wickets between lunch and tea to keep the advantage in the match with the bowling side.

    He dismissed Paul Collingwood for 30 and Tim Ambrose for 11, steadily depriving Pietersen of his most erstwhile support.

    It was left to the young all-rounder Stuart Broad, who was 42 not out at stumps, to carry the burden of the England innings when Pietersen fell in the
    final session.

    Pietersen batted for a little less than six hours Saturday, mixing his typical aggression with more dogged perseverance. He fought particular battles with Vettori and Patel, sprinkling his innings with 12 fours and a single six.

    Southee claimed his wicket during his third spell, eliciting another loose shot which resulted in a second catch for How at gully.

    The youngster finished the day with three for 46 from 21 overs while Patel had two for 37 and Martin and Elliott took a wicket each.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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