Australia on top despite Pietersen ton

England fail to seize the initiative on day three of third Ashes Test, closing 34 runs short of avoiding the follow-on.

    Australia on top despite Pietersen ton
    Pietersen dug his team out of a hole by hitting 113 - his 23rd Test hundred [Reuters]

    Kevin Pietersen's first century of this Ashes series helped see England to within sight of avoiding the follow-on in the third Test against Australia at Old Trafford on Saturday.

    At the close of the third day, England were 294 for seven - still 233 runs behind - after Pietersen had made 113.

    Matt Prior was six not out and Stuart Broad nine not out, with England now needing just 34 more runs to make Australia bat again in a match the tourists, 2-0 down with three to play, had to win to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes.

    Crucial knock

    Third day scorecard

    Australia first innings 527 for seven declared (M Clarke 187, Swann 5-159)

    England first innings

    A Cook c Haddin b Starc 62
    J Root c Haddin b Siddle 8
    T Bresnan c Haddin b Siddle 1
    J Trott c Clarke b Harris 5
    K Pietersen lbw b Starc 113
    I Bell b Harris 60
    J Bairstow c Watson b Starc 22
    M Prior not out 6
    S Broad not out 9
    Extras (lb 7, nb 1) 8
    Total (7 wickets, 120 overs) 294

    Fall of wicket 1-47 2-49 3-64 4-110 5-225 6-277 7-280
    Bowling: Harris 26-9-50-2, Starc 26-5-75-3 (1nb), Lyon 26-8-77-0, Watson 15-7-26-0, Siddle 25-6-53-2, Smith 2-0-6-0 

    The hundred was Pietersen's 23rd in 97 Tests - but first at this level at Old Trafford - and left him two shy of the England Test century record of 25 held by Alastair Cook.

    It came almost a year to the day since Pietersen's Test hundred against his native South Africa at Headingley, after which he was briefly dropped from the England side for sending texts allegedly critical of then England captain Andrew Strauss to Proteas players.

    Together with Ian Bell, who made an elegant 60, Pietersen put on 115 for the fifth wicket and 52 for the sixth with Jonny Bairstow (22).

    The Ashes-holders resumed Saturday on 52 for two after Australia had declared at 527 for seven on the back of captain Michael Clarke's commanding 187.

    It was his highest Test score against England and the highest by any Australian in an overseas Test since nightwatchman Jason Gillespie's extraordinary 201 not out against Bangladesh seven years ago.

    At the start of play, England captain Cook was 36 not out and Jonathan Trott two not out.

    However, Trott fell for five when he edged a good length ball from fast bowler Ryan Harris low to Clarke at second slip.

    Pietersen, arguably England's most talented batsman, was fortunate not to nick his first ball, an excellent delivery from Harris, and only got off the mark after just digging out a yorker from the same bowler.

    Meanwhile left-hander Cook completed a 138-ball fifty including seven fours.

    But shortly before lunch left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc had Cook caught superbly for 62 by diving wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who held a right-handed chance off a genuine glance.

    Then Bell, on four, survived an appeal for a catch by Haddin off Starc with the 'Snicko' device, not part of the Decision Review System that has caused so much controversy this series, indicating he had got a thin edge.


    At lunch, England were 119 for four with Pietersen on 33 and Bell on four.

    The 33-year-old Pietersen then attacked Nathan Lyon, dancing down the pitch to drive the off-spinner for two sixes in successive balls as he went to fifty.

    Bell followed suit by driving Lyon for six.

    Pietersen might have been out for 62 when Australia opted against reviewing an lbw appeal from all-rounder Shane Watson turned down by umpire Tony Hill that DRS indicated was out.

    Australia took the new ball with England 198 for four off 81 overs but, three balls later, Bell drove Starc down the ground.

    Bell's three off Siddle then saw him to a 93-ball fifty.

    But Bell, bidding to become the first England batsman to make hundreds in four successive Ashes Tests, was bowled by a brilliant Harris delivery that nipped back to clip the top of off stump.

    Pietersen, however, completed an impressive 165-ball century by uppercutting Starc behind point for his 10th four in an innings also featuring two sixes.

    But he was dismissed when, playing down the wrong line of a ball from Starc (three for 75) that pitched on middle stump, he was given out lbw by Hill.

    Pietersen reviewed and, while there was the tiniest hint of an edge on Hot Spot, part of the DRS, third umpire Kumar Dharmasena upheld Hill's verdict.



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