A constrained Kevin Pietersen survived a catch off the only attacking stroke of his innings as England meandered to 135 for the loss of 3 wickets at tea on the opening day of the fourth Ashes test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket ground.
Australia leads the 5 test series 3 - 0.
Pietersen had a big reprieve shortly before tea, escaping with a six when he was caught at deep—backward square only for substitute fielder Nathan Coulter—Nile to carry the ball over the boundary rope.
Another loss then would have been dire for England, which lost the wickets of Michael Carberry and Joe Root in the middle session after captain Alastair Cook’s dismissal in the morning.
Pietersen was on 20 off 57 balls at the break, batting with Ian Bell on 11.
Ryan Harris (1—22), Peter Siddle (1—32) and Shane Watson (1—11) were the wicket—takers.
Michael Clarke’s decision to send England in to bat for the first time after winning every toss this series was beginning to seem flawed before some tight bowling from Siddle finally paid off with the wicket of Cook in the 17th over of the day.
Cook, who’s previous appearance ended with a golden duck in the second innings of the third test at Perth, made 27 in a confident 48—run opening partnership with Carberry before Siddle tempted him into an edge to Clarke at second slip.
After a relatively sedate start in humid and overcast conditions, the sun emerged after lunch as 90,000 people flocked to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. And as the weather heated up, so did the pressure from Australia’s pace attack on England’s fragile top order.
Opener Carberry, who survived a decision review for lbw shortly before lunch, appeared set to bring up just his second half century of the series before losing his leg stump to allrounder Watson for 38. It was the third time Watson has claimed Carberry’s wicket this series.
Watson continued to look dangerous until breaking down mid—way through his seventh over and limping off the field with groin pain. Cricket Australia said the extent of his injury is being assessed.
Australia, currently fifth in the test rankings, can overtake England into third place with a 5—0 series win.
Alastair Cook c Clarke b Siddle 27
Michael Carberry b Watson 38
Joe Root c Haddin b Harris 24
Kevin Pietersen not out 20
Ian Bell not out 11
Extras- (10b,5lb) 15
TOTAL- (for three wickets) 135.
Overs- 54. Batting time- 239 minutes.
Fall of wickets- 1—48, 2—96, 3—106.
Still to bat- Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Jimmy Anderson, Monty Panesar.
Bowling- Ryan Harris 15—8—22—1, Mitchell Johnson 12—1—39—0, Peter Siddle 13—4—32—1, Nathan Lyon 7.2—3—16—0, Shane Watson 6.4—2—11—1.
Series: Australia leads 5-test series 3—0.
Umpires- Aleem Dar, Pakistan, and Kumar Dharmasena, Sri Lanka.
TV umpire- Billy Bowden, New Zealand. Match referee- Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.