Ashes: Late strike lifts England hopes in Adelaide Test
Second Ashes Test, Adelaide: Australia 245 & 238-4 v England 620-5d (day four, stumps) Venue: Adelaide Oval Date: 3-7 December. Play resumes 2330 GMT on 6 Dec Coverage: Listen live on Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 LW (starts 2302 GMT), 5 live sports extra and online; live highlights and day's review on the
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Pietersen's dramatic late intervention may prove crucial for England
By Jamie Lillywhite
Kevin Pietersen struck with the final ball of day four to put England on course for victory in the second Test against Australia in Adelaide.
Pietersen had Michael Clarke caught at short-leg for 80 as the home side ended on 238-4, still 137 runs behind.
England had declared on 620-5 after adding 69 in nine overs, Pietersen out for a Test-best 227 and Ian Bell on 68.
Graeme Swann took two wickets but after rain Clarke and Mike Hussey took their stand to 104 before the late drama.
With bad weather also forecast for the final day of the match, the decision to bat on by England skipper Andrew Strauss with his side already 306 ahead was questionable.
England in box seat - Swann
But Pietersen hammered the second ball of the day to the cover fence and added another boundary to surpass his previous best of 226 before a slog sweep skewed off the bottom of the bat to slip to give beleaguered left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty a welcome wicket.
It also ended Pietersen's 116-run partnership with Bell, the fourth successive century stand of the innings, a feat achieved only twice before in Test history.
Bell played some majestic strokes including a straight drive for six in his 25th Test fifty as England reached a total of 600 for only the second time in a Test match in Australia.
Matt Prior added a cameo 27, saved from his second duck of the series by a referral to the TV umpire after he was given out lbw to Peter Siddle and also when a top edge fell to safety as Ricky Ponting and Marcus North feared a collision and left the catch to each other.
That, combined with the sight of Simon Katich limping after the ball like an elderly war veteran because of a badly swollen Achilles, gave the Australians the despondent air of a beaten side.
But Katich rejected the option of a runner and with opening partner Shane Watson adopted a positive approach when it was their turn to bat.
They took 17 from the first two overs, and with James Anderson and Stuart Broad failing to impress, Strauss soon turned to off-spinner Swann after nine overs.
Swann made the breakthrough soon after lunch when Katich got the faintest of edges pushing forward and was caught behind for 43.
His dismissal brought in Ponting on a king pair after a first-ball dismissal on the opening day, but he opened his account from his 13th delivery with a stylish punch off the back foot for four when Swann dropped a fraction short.
The Australia captain, who has eight Test centuries against England, the most recent of which came in the first Test of the 2009 series, aggressively swept another boundary despite the ball from Swann spitting out of the rough.
The next delivery pitched on an identical length but was a fraction straighter and when Ponting lunged forward, it held its line, took the edge and Paul Collingwood scooped up an excellent catch at slip.
With their captain gone for nine, Australia could have folded, but Watson reached his 13th Test fifty with his ninth four, a thumping drive down the ground off Broad who was clearly troubled by a stomach injury.
Once again, however, Watson failed to convert his start into a century when he edged a useful delivery from the persevering Steven Finn low to Strauss in a solitary slip position and departed for 57.
The skies darkened and held up play for 55 minutes, but once they had cleared, England were able to send down a further 19 overs before the close.
It seemed, however, that their hopes of further success would be dashed when Clarke was given out caught at slip on 67 but he immediately called for the decision to be reviewed and replays showed the ball had touched nothing but his pad.
Australia's vice-captain continued to play in bold fashion but might have fallen twice in successive balls as Swann continued to pose problems with sharply turning deliveries from wide of off-stump.
One extremely difficult chance rebounded off the knee of Alastair Cook at short-leg and the next ball looped into a gap in the close-in field after flicking his glove.
Hussey, meanwhile, dispatched a full toss from Swann for six but was fortunate to see a ball dribble agonisingly back past the stumps from the angled face of his bat as he reached 44 not out.
Pietersen was given two overs to try his luck and the change paid off for Strauss as he found sharp turn and bounce to force Clarke back, with his defensive push bouncing up off the thigh pad to be smartly taken by Cook over his shoulder at short-leg.
It was Pietersen's fifth Test wicket and by far the most important, but England will be up against both the remaining Australian batsmen and the elements as they seek to secure a 1-0 lead in the series.
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