Pietersen, Collingwood defy Australia

CARDIFF: Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood kept Australia at bay with a century stand as England got through the second session of the first Ashes Test without losing a wicket on Wednesday.

At tea, England were 194-3 with both Pietersen and Collingwood having made responsible fifties to be 52 not out and 50 not out respectively. Their stand was worth 104 after they'd come together with England faltering at 90-3. The pair knew all about building a big partnership after sharing an England fourth-wicket record against Australia of 310 at Adelaide in 2006/07.

Pietersen twice drove Ben Hilfenhaus through extra-cover for boundaries shortly after lunch but his innings had so far featured just three fours in all. Australia captain Ricky Ponting, after 31 overs of seam bowling, eventually turned to Nathan Hauritz. The off-spinner had been selected for this match despite his two wickets on tour so far costing 260 runs. Pietersen and Collingwood then proceeded to score steadily against Hauritz (0-41) as they rebuilt the innings. Hauritz only looked like taking a wicket when Pietersen charged down the pitch before being saved from a possible stumping when the ball hit his pads.

Left-arm spinner Michael Clarke came on at the other end as Ponting looked to give his quicks a breather. Clarke almost bowled Pietersen around his pads, the ball missing leg-stump by a whisker. England went 21 overs between boundaries before Collingwood ended the drought with a couple of square cuts off Hauritz and Pietersen followed up by driving Clarke to long-off.

Before lunch, Australia's pace trio battled hard to overcome a placid pitch. When Brett Lee was ruled with injury it meant Australia, who thrashed England 5-0 in 2006/07, would go into this match with an attack where all the bowlers were making Ashes debuts.

They were given a boost thanks to a brilliant catch by Mike Hussey. Left-hander Alastair Cook (10), playing loosely away from his body against Hilfenhaus, saw Hussey hold a diving one-handed chance in the gully. Ravi Bopara was then hit second ball in the throat by lively first-change Peter Siddle, and he got off the mark thanks to a fortunate inside edge.

But Bopara, who'd scored hundreds in his last three Tests, all against the West Indies, did strike several elegant boundaries. However, he was also hit on the head by a Mitchell Johnson bouncer. England captain Andrew Strauss looked secure while making 30. But it was the left-hander, not Bopara, who fell to a well-directed bouncer from Johnson which he gloved to Clarke in the slips. And then Bopara's uneven innings of 35, featuring six fours, came to an end when he spooned a catch off Johnson to Phillip Hughes at point.


England -- 1st Innings

A Strauss c Clarke b Johnson 30

A Cook c Hussey b Hilfenhaus 10

R Bopara c Hughes b Johnson 35

K Pietersen not out 52

P Collingwood not out 50

Extras: 17 (b8, lb1, nb8)

Total: 194/3

FoW: 1-21, 2-67, 3-90

Australia bowling: Johnson 13-2-45-2, Hilfenhaus 12-3-27-1, Siddle 15-2-52-0, Hauritz 14-1-41-0, Clarke 5-0-20-0