| Kevin Pietersen, on way to his unbeaten 67, on Thursday |
Melbourne: Under-pressure England batsman Kevin Pietersen stood tall on the opening day of the fourth Ashes Test against Australia, on Thursday, even as his teammates crumbled around him.
Normally ebullient at the crease, Pietersen showed rare circumspection as he rode his luck to an unbeaten 67 to anchor his team to 226 for six at the close in front of a world record Test crowd of 91,092, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Given a life on six when substitute fielder Nathan Coulter-Nile carried a catch over the boundary, Pietersen enjoyed more luck when he was dropped on 41 by George Bailey.
If England are to have any chance of posting a 300-plus first innings total for the first time this series, they will need their best batsman to stay out the rest of the innings.
“The positive is that we’ve got Kev (Pietersen) there on Friday morning and if he has a good couple of hours then things can change very quickly,” England’s Ian Bell said.
“Hopefully tomorrow, with Kev there, we can get ourselves past 300 and try to put a bit of pressure on Australia,” Bell added.
Meanwhile, even with heavy overcast early morning conditions, Michael Clarke’s decision to invite England to bat first on a flat MCG pitch looked a risk and the Australian captain admitted much himself.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this but we’re going to have a bowl,” he told the crowd at the toss.
“Our goal was to bowl lots of dots and we did that and got some wickets from it,” Australia’s Ryan Harris said.
“We know if we bowl like we did today... They are not going to score many runs because we’re putting so much pressure on them.”