Australia strike late to share honours

Australia strike late to share honours

Pietersen, Collingwood come good for England

Australia strike late to share honours

Costly Mistake: Kevin Pietersen drags one from outside the off-stump only to see the shot result in a catch. AP

At the close in the first Test match ever staged in Cardiff, England were 336 for seven after winning the toss, a satisfactory but by no means commanding total.

After the hosts had been reduced to 90 for three in the opening session, Kevin Pietersen (69) and Paul Collingwood (64) revived their fortunes with a 138-run fourth-wicket partnership.

Andrew Flintoff (37) and Matt Prior (56) then added a breezy 86 from 95 balls before Peter Siddle earned due reward for a splendid display of fast bowling by dismissing both with the second new ball.

Ben Hilfenhaus made the breakthrough for Australia when Alastair Cook (10) fended a wide delivery to gully where Michael Hussey dived acrobatically to his right to take the catch.

Siddle, who bowled with great heart, good pace and little luck, made an immediate impact when he rattled Ravi Bopara's helmet grill. Bopara fended the next delivery perilously close to short-leg.

Andrew Strauss reached 30 before Mitchell Johnson got a delivery to lift spitefully at his throat. The ball brushed Strauss' glove and lobbed high over the slip cordon for Michael Clarke to take the catch running back.

Bopara (35) mixed sublime drives with a series of streaky shots but appeared to be settling down when Johnson held the ball back with no discernible change in action. Bopara was too early on the shot and ballooned the ball to Phillip Hughes at cover.
At 90 for three, England were in trouble but they dominated the afternoon session with the Australian spinners unable to extract anything from the pitch.

Off-spinner Nathan Hauritz bowled 14 overs without looking like improving his tour figures of two for 260 and Clarke conceded 20 from five overs of his occasional left-arm spin.

Pietersen and Collingwood sensibly decided to take the many singles on offer and avoid the big shots, putting on 138 with unexciting but productive batting.

Ponting reverted to his fast bowlers after tea and the game changed direction again when Collingwood was caught behind by Brad Haddin off Hilfenhaus from an indifferent shot.

Pietersen was struck on the pads by Hilfenhaus from a ball which looked as though it would have hit the stumps and in his next over he was dropped on 66 off a fierce chance to Clarke at cover.  Hauritz returned from the Cathedral Road end and Pietersen's luck ran out when he tried to drag a ball well outside his off-stump to leg and popped a catch to Simon Katich at short-leg. Flintoff, making his comeback from injury, inspired some of the loudest applause with a fierce back foot drive for four and a majestic pull to the square-leg boundary.

But he was bowled off an inside edge playing a flat-footed drive and Siddle defeated Prior's attempted defensive shot to put the game back in the balance.

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