Pietersen swells England’s lead with double hundred

Adelaide: Kevin Pietersen became the fifth Englishman to score a double century in Australia as England’s lead ballooned to 306 runs on the third day of the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

The number four showman relished his return to the ground where he last hammered a big century to continue England’s relentless accumulation of runs to plunder the home attack.

When rain washed out play after tea England were 551 for four with Pietersen on a majestic 213 and Ian Bell providing solid support on 41.

Skipper Andrew Strauss has a decision to make whether to bat on or declare and send Australia back in with two days left to get a crucial result with the weather threatening to intervene.

Pietersen joined teammates Alastair Cook and Paul Collingwood, Walter Hammond (3) and Reg Foster as English double-centurions in Australia.

Pietersen dominated the third day as he helped himself to his second Test double-century and was within reach of his highest Test score of 226 against the West Indies in May 2007.

In doing so Pietersen broke through for his first Test century in 28 innings since his 102 against the West Indies at the Port-of-Spain in March last year.

Pietersen was in virtuoso form, clubbing 31 fours and jumping down the wicket to launch a six off the hapless spinner Xavier Doherty in his chanceless knock.

Four years ago Pietersen scored 158 and Collingwood 206 in a record stand of 310 in England’s first innings 551 for six declared – the tourists were coincidentally on the same total Sunday against a despairing home attack.

Cook’s occupation of the crease earlier ended on 148 in the 97th over when he inside edged paceman Ryan Harris to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

The Adelaide crowd rose to their feet to cheer Cook from the field after his 15th Test century and third against Australia.

Cook has now scored 450 runs in the series for two dismissals at an extraordinary average of 225.

The Essex left-hander has now occupied the crease for almost 22-and-a-half hours and faced 865 balls in the series.

Collingwood was the other England wicket to fall on Sunday when he was trapped in front lbw by Shane Watson for 42 ending a 101-run stand with Pietersen.

Dominant England have now amassed 1,068 runs in their last two innings of the series for the loss of just five wickets.

Australia, drained by their second day in the field, looked bereft of ideas to contain England’s remorseless run chase with skipper Ricky Ponting attempting to dry up the scoring with some unorthodox field placements.

It was painful exposure to Test cricket for left-arm spinner Doherty, who went wicketless for 120 off his 24 overs in his second Test match, while Doug Bollinger proved expensive at 1-121 off 27 overs.

Opener Simon Katich left the field during the second session with what was reported to be a heel problem, after he hobbled around the field in obvious discomfort.

The home side were paying dearly for the abject failure of their batsmen in a below par 245 after winning the toss on Friday’s opening day.

It was Australia’s worst performance in the first innings at Adelaide since being skittled by the West Indies for 213 in 1993.

Bureau Report