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Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

A surprise wicket for Kevin Pietersen, off the last ball of day four, has made a massive difference to this absorbing Adelaide Test match.

Australia are 238-4 in their second innings and still 137 runs behind after England's first innings declaration on 620-5.

Kevin Pietersen
Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen could have key roles on Tuesday

Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey played so well in their partnership, and were starting to frustrate England, with nicks not going to hand.

If Australia had been only three wickets down at stumps, they would have felt they had a real chance of saving the game, but that one wicket really does swing things.

England do not have to take the new ball immediately when it becomes available on the final morning, and indeed I would suggest that they avoid doing so, with Graeme Swann bowling pretty well.

He should fancy his chances. Even though Hussey has had a start, there will be two left-handers on strike when he is joined by Marcus North, and Swann likes bowling to left-handers.

Pietersen, who does spin the ball and gets a lot of bounce, will also be an option, and on a wicket like this he could be important, especially given that there is an issue over Stuart Broad's fitness. No-one wants to get out to KP, but Michael Clarke did, on 80, and his dismissal showed just how much spin there is out there.

England's plan for Tuesday should be to get amongst the Australians early with the old ball, while in the back of Andrew Strauss's mind will be the knowledge that he can take the new ball, and if Broad is not quite fit, then Anderson and Steven Finn will share it.

Broad's injury brings with it one or two complications, but Paul Collingwood, with his cutters, is there as a potential partnership breaker. On this kind of wicket, however, Pietersen has probably earned the right to come on before him.

Tom Fordyce's blog

The one thing that will prey on England's mind overnight, and the one thing that could stop them from achieving a richly deserved win - even the Australian fans admit it - is the weather.

We have already had interruptions, and Tuesday's forecast from the local Met Office is light rain around in the morning, more of a showery variety in the afternoon and the possibility of a thunderstorm.

England just have to get on with their job, and try not to think about the weather. There is a possibility of stoppages, but we do have an early start.

Australian fans will be pleased to have seen a significant innings from Clarke, who was determined to bat his way out of a poor run with some positive cricket. At times it became a little frenetic, but generally he was somewhere between the two.

Australia will not lay down for England, but England should still manage to win this match

He came down the pitch and used his feet well to Swann in a good little tussle, but the best battle of the day was between Swann and Ricky Ponting.

The Australian captain is obviously a big wicket and he was out there on a king pair, with the pressure beginning to mount. He managed to punch one away through the on-side for four but then got a ball that really turned and bounced.

The very next delivery skidded on. It was one of those that was rolled out of the hand, not spun hard. Ponting had to play it, and it took the edge. Collingwood's catch at slip was brilliant - in fact all of England's catches were good, even Alastair Cook's at the end.

Strauss's take off Finn to remove Shane Watson was another good, clean catch - and it's so good for England that all these chances are sticking.

Australia did show a lot of fight on Monday. There were the two big stands, one between Watson and the injured Simon Katich, who refused to use a runner, and then the Clarke-Hussey stand.

They will not lay down for England, but England should still manage to win this match.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

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see also
England chase victory in Adelaide
06 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Clarke wicket was crucial - Swann
06 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Second Ashes Test in photos
06 Dec 10 |  England
Pietersen gives England huge lead
05 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Cook ton puts England in command
04 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England dominate in Adelaide Test
03 Dec 10 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket

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