By Shrikant Shankar
Dec 26, 2013
England lost two wickets in the afternoon session to enter tea at 135 for three on Day One of the fourth Ashes 2013-14 Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Boxing Day. Michael Carberry (38) and Joe Root (11) were the batsmen dismissed. Kevin Pietersen is batting on 20 and Ian Bell is on 11.
The session began with England at 71 for one. Root got things going with a punch straight down the ground to a fuller delivery from Shane Watson. The ball raced away for a four in-between the bowler and mid-on fielder.
Root then punched one off Ryan Harris to long-off and ran three. Mitchell Johnson came into the attack and he bowled a short and wide delivery to Carberry, who cut it behind point for a four.
Watson bowled one wide outside off-stump and Carberry cut that for a four towards the third-man region. He was not in full control of that shot as it went finer than he would have wanted it to go.
Watson then came from round the wicket and bowled an out-swinger to Carberry, who left the ball. Then Watson angled one into Carberry from the same line. The ball pitched on a good length and came in sharply. Carberry left the ball again and it clipped the bails.
Carberry could not believe his luck, but it was a great ball from Watson. Pietersen was the new man in. Michael Clarke immediately brought in Peter Siddle into the attack, replacing wicket-taker Watson to bowl to Pietersen.
Johnson was bowling at speeds exceeding 150 kmph. Pietersen got off the mark with a pull off Siddle over mid-wicket for four. It took him 13 deliveries to get his first runs. The next ball went in-between bat and pad and missed the off-stump by a whisker.
Johnson bowled a back of a length delivery and Root edged it while defending off the back-foot. The ball did not carry to Clarke at second slip. Root did play it with soft hands, hence less carry.
Harris struck first ball after the drinks break in the afternoon session. He bowled an out-swinger at good length and Root was drawn into playing a defensive shot. But he only edged it to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
With that catch, Haddin had 50 dismissals in the year to go with his 500-plus runs. He is only the third Australian wicketkeeper to do the 500/50 double.
Ian Bell was the next batsman in. Then there was a period of play where runs were at an absolute premium. It seemed like both Pietersen and Bell refused to play any scoring shot.
Australia then suffered a minor blow as Watson pulled a hamstring during his run-up. Nathan Lyon finished his over. Watson went into the dressing room to get treatment.
Pietersen moved from four to five after 26 deliveries. The scoring did improve as both Pietersen and Bell took five runs off one Lyon over.
There was a moment of luck for Pietersen before tea. He hooked a bouncer from Harris to fine-leg. Substitute Nathan Coulter-Nile took the catch but his momentum was carrying him towards the boundary. He jumped and in mid-air and off balance he threw the ball into the crowd as he landed behind the boundary line.
Pietersen got a six for that. Tea was soon taken as England were at 135 for three.
England 135 for 3 (Alastair Cook 27, Michael Carberry 38; Shane Watson 1 for 11, Ryan Harris 1 for 22) vs Australia.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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