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The Ashes: Kevin Pietersen half century boosts England

Tour match, Perth (day two of three, close):
Western Australia 242-8 dec & 109-1 v England 223-8 dec

Match scorecard

Kevin Pietersen
Kevin Pietersen acknowleges the crowd's applause after reaching his fifty

England's Kevin Pietersen hinted at a return to form ahead of the Ashes in an otherwise lacklustre top-order batting effort against Western Australia.

Pietersen top-scored with 58, including nine fours, as the tourists declared on 223-8 on day two of the game in Perth.

England were 117-7 at one stage but an unbroken stand of 64 between Stuart Broad (53) and Graeme Swann (23) saw them trail by only 19 on first innings.

The state side extended that to 128 by reaching 109-1 at close of play.

Having arrived in Australia with a determination to hit the ground running, England had reason to be satisfied with their first-day performance, despite the dismissal of opener Alastair Cook for five shortly before the close.

But at the start of day two, it soon became apparent they were not going to be served up easy runs by a largely inexperienced Western Australia attack as skipper Andrew Strauss tried to force a ball from Steve Magoffin off the back foot and was caught behind for 14.

Nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson lingered in the middle for 40 minutes before he was taken at second slip off Ryan Duffield, leaving Pietersen and Jonathan Trott to rebuild the innings.

The state side were handicapped by the loss of Magoffin, their most seasoned performer, with a knee injury but showed they had done their homework on Pietersen by immediately introducing the left-arm spin of Michael Beer.

Having fallen to left-armers so often in the past, Pietersen set out his stall to try to dominate the 26-year-old, making only his third first-class appearance, by lofting him over mid-on for four before cover-driving for a second boundary.

He had a slice of good fortune on 25 when Luke Pomersbach failed to hang onto a low slip chance as he dived to his left - seamer Michael Hogan the unlucky bowler - and by lunch England's fourth-wicket partnership had added 61.

The interval did them no favours, however, as Trott edged Beer to the keeper from the fifth ball after the resumption and home skipper Marcus North took a superb catch at gully off Hogan to send Paul Collingwood on his way for four.

England skipper Andrew Strauss is dismissed in Perth
Western Australia celebrate after making short work of Andrew Strauss

The same combination then accounted for Pietersen and Beer sent back Matt Prior for a fourth-ball duck, caught driving on the up at short extra-cover.

Ian Bell, who had hit Beer for six from the third ball he faced, became the spinner's third victim when he nicked tamely to the keeper.

At that point, England were 159-8 but Broad and Swann met the situation with panache and brio, hitting 11 boundaries between them to go with three sixes from Broad - the third of which, swept off Beer, brought up the left-handers half century from only 48 balls faced and prompted Strauss to make the declaration.

Broad again shared the new ball with Anderson as Western Australia began their reply but neither was able to make a breakthrough as openers Liam Davis and Wes Robinson shared a stand of 77.

It was Steve Finn who eventually separated the first-wicket pair, winning a leg-before decision against Davis, who went for 43, but Robinson (46) and Michael Swart (16)saw it through to stumps to leave England with plenty to think about ahead of the final day.

"Today there were a few hiccups, but there are a lot of positives," said Pietersen.

"A couple of the batters did actually spend an hour out there or so, which will stand them in good stead and as we know time in the middle is a lot better than time in the nets."


On his own form, Pietersen said he felt "on fire" after recently working with former South Africa coach Graham Ford.

"I've been working really hard over the last six weeks to get to the place where I am at the moment. Coming back from South Africa, I feel top drawer again," he continued.

"I've never really been a technical player - I play like a clown. "It's just my mental approach that I needed to change, just get a load of confidence back, and I'm on fire at the moment."

Pietersen scored 490 runs at an average of 54 in the 2006-07 Ashes series but England still lost 5-0.

"[This time] I'd take 350 and an Ashes victory, for sure," he added.

"I've been pretty fortunate to play three Ashes, and won two of them. I'd love to go three-four. We've got a very, very good unit at the moment - very happy in all our roles in the team."

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see also
Broad on song in England warm-up
05 Nov 10 |  England
Fit-again Anderson set for battle
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England play down Australia slump
04 Nov 10 |  England
England gear up for the Ashes
04 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka comeback stuns Aussies
03 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Vaughan criticises Aussie attack
02 Nov 10 |  England
England arrive for Ashes defence
30 Oct 10 |  England
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket

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