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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 March 2008, 04:47 GMT
Pietersen ton gives England hope
Third Test, Napier, day one (close):
England 240-7 v New Zealand

By David Ornstein

Kevin Pietersen
Pietersen hit the first ton by a top-six England batsman in the series
Kevin Pietersen's crucial century was the highlight of an otherwise dreadful England display on day one of the third Test decider against New Zealand.

Opting to bat first in Napier, England slumped to 4-3, and then 36-4, before Pietersen dug in to rescue his side.

Pietersen, helped by Paul Collingwood (30) and Stuart Broad (42 not out), went on to make his 11th Test ton.

But he fell for 129 to Tim Southee, who took 3-46 on his Test debut, and England reached stumps on 240-7.

The 27-year-old Hampshire batsman was responsible for the vast majority of his side's runs and kept them in contention for a victory which at one stage appeared unthinkable.

Yet Pietersen's innings could do little to mask the failings displayed by many of his team-mates.

Under clear skies and glorious sunshine in Napier, skipper Michael Vaughan would have been delighted to win the toss and get the chance to make runs on a hard and flat pitch, notoriously conducive to high scoring.

David O, BBC Sport

Before play began there was a touch of dew on the surface and tiny cracks were beginning to appear - but neither of these factors can excuse the manner in which England began.

Alastair Cook and Vaughan looked tentative from the outset and, after getting several deliveries to swing away, debutant Southee got one to nip back and trap Vaughan plumb in front of middle stump.

The 19-year-old, who took 17 wickets at 6.64 during the Under-19 World Cup, continued to generate bounce and movement but the wicket of Andrew Strauss came gift-wrapped.

Having faced just six balls, the out-of-form Middlesex batsman flashed recklessly at a ball well wide of his off-stump and was taken expertly by Jamie How at gully.

And one over later, in the seventh, Cook attempted a similarly loose drive at an inswinging Chris Martin delivery and inside-edged it onto his stumps to leave England reeling on 4-3.

New Zealand, wearing black armbands in memory of former captain Merv Wallace, who died aged 91 on Friday, were again exposing the dire lack of confidence in England's top order.

New Zealand celebrate
Southee (left) returned figures of 3-46 on debut

Pietersen and Ian Bell set about rebuilding the innings but runs were hard to come by and Bell had scored just two off 38 balls before driving Martin past mid-off for four, only England's second boundary of the day, in the 17th over.

Aware of how important it was not to lose another wicket before lunch, the pair batted cautiously towards the interval.

Neither appeared troubled by the other debutant Grant Elliot, which made it all the more surprising when the medium pacer had Bell caught and bowled as the batsman tamely flat-batted when attempting to work it through the leg-side.

Pietersen swept Daniel Vettori for consecutive boundaries to send England in on 58-4 and, after the re-start, brought up his half-century by working Vettori through square.

Collingwood survived a huge caught-behind shout off Martin before pushing England past the 100 mark with two beautiful fours through the covers off Elliot.

As with England's previous four batsmen to fall, however, the one-day captain simply threw his wicket away.

Collingwood was gradually opening up and appeared set to kick on for his 50, but then leaned back and produced a terrible shot, cutting Jeetan Patel straight into the hands of Elliot at backward point.

And wicket-keeper Tim Ambrose, looking a shadow of the player who made 102 in the first innings of the second Test, nicked Patel to Ross Taylor at second slip.

Stuart Broad
Tail-ender Broad was England's second-highest scorer

Crucially for England, Pietersen remained at the crease to almost single-handedly give the innings an air of respectability and he reached three figures with a rather fortuitous outside edge past gully for four.

It was the first ton by a member of England's top six in the series.

Able support came in the form of Broad and the left-hander's impressive innings allowed Pietersen to relax, smashing Vettori onto the roof of the stands in the 80th over.

But Kiwi captain Vettori then took the new ball and his decision paid immediate dividends when Southee coaxed Pietersen into thick-edging to How at gully.

That completed a memorable day for the seamer, who controversially received advice from bowling coach Dayle Hadlee on the boundary throughout.

Broad and Ryan Sidebottom were unbeaten at the close but England's bid for a first overseas series win since 2005 is hanging by a thread.

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