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Jonathan Agnew column

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen was one of four wickets to fall after tea as Australia fought back on the opening day at Lord's

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Led by Andrew Strauss, who was undefeated on 161, England dominated much of the first day of the second Test, taking advantage of some uncharacteristically scruffy and ill-disciplined Australian bowling, only for the bad habits to return after tea.

All the talk following the first Test was of the need for the batsmen to get their heads down and not give their wickets away, but Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior were both guilty of lapses of concentration which brought the Australians rushing back into the game.

Strauss and Alastair Cook struck 22 fours in the morning session at Lord's. They put on 126 as Australia - and Mitchell Johnson in particular - bowled raggedly. Johnson appeared to have no idea where the ball was going, but when Cook was on 95, and a century seemed a certainty, the left-arm paceman struck him in front of the stumps to dismiss the Essex man lbw.

That was 196-1, the highest opening partnership against Australia at Lord's, and Ravi Bopara breezily reached 18 from 19 balls, before also falling lbw, this time to the persevering Ben Hilfenhaus.

So in came Kevin Pietersen at 222-2, and he produced another innings which will not dissuade a number of seasoned observers that he appears distracted.

It was a skittish knock in which he nearly ran out Strauss on 97, came within a whisker of handling the ball - twice - and almost fell to a catch from a mistimed hook.

Strauss reached his hundred and, at tea, I am sure efforts were made to calm Pietersen down. He played more quietly after the break but, on 32, aimed a familiar push at a delivery on the off stump in which the face of his bat aimed at mid on. The ball moved slightly away and Brad Haddin took a low catch.

Collingwood's discipline and determination were rightly lauded after his fine second innings at Cardiff, but goodness knows what possessed him this afternoon when he advanced down the pitch to Michael Clarke, failed to get to the pitch of the ball and flogged a catch to mid-on for 16.

It was a very poor shot under the circumstances, and left Prior needing to accompany Strauss until the second new ball was due. In fact, in the 80th over, Prior aimed an airy drive at Johnson with his feet nowhere and he was bowled through the gate with one hand off the bat for eight.

From the Australian perspective, it was an absolute gift; perfectly timed, with the new ball available, and Andrew Flintoff walking to the wicket.

Flintoff fell to a low slip catch by Ponting for four before Australia took the new ball to complete a triumphant session in which England lost four wickets for 109 and the balance of the game swung dangerously towards the tourists.



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see also
Strauss century defies Australia
16 Jul 09 |  England
Flintoff issues burnout warning
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Flintoff to quit Test cricket
15 Jul 09 |  England
The Ashes: head-to-head
04 Jul 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
Australia in England 2009
20 Sep 09 |  England


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