Ashes 2013: Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell help England recover after Ryan Harris snares top-order

The audacious late cut….. Although England had lost early wickets, Ian Bell was confident and that allowed him to play strokes like these © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Aug 11, 2013

England have gone into Tea on Day Three at 123 for three in the fourth Ashes Test at Chester-le-Street. Ryan Harris dominated the English top-order in the afternoon session as he snared the top three. However, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell — England’s in form players — helped England recover from the early blows.

Coming into this session, England were 24 for one with Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the centre. The ball was moving around and Harris was always in the equation. Although Cook was more positive during the morning session, that very instinct was to cost him as he played at one away from his body and only managed to edge it to Brad Haddin.

Trott followed soon after as a short delivery climbed on him. He was shaping to pull, but only managed to glove it into Haddin’s hands down the leg side. At 49 for three, England were in a precarious position, while Australia were on the prowl.

Pietersen and Bell then went about the recovery job. The great thing was that they were very positive and did not let the early wickets affect their approach. Bell was at his delicate best — essaying an audacious late cut through slips. Given the situation, it was brave of him to try that stroke. On the other hand, Pietersen was tested by a few short deliveries and he dealt with them well. However, there were a few he failed to control, but was lucky that they didn’t carry to the fielders in the deep. Throughout, there was this eagerness to dominate in both players. Pietersen even played the dominating pull to show that he was ready for the challenge.

As the pair constructed the partnership, England looked in a better position. They took England past hundred and also notched their 50-run partnership. Nathan Lyon came on and it was a battle of wits thereafter. Pietersen and Bell were just about warming up and hadn’t asserted themselves to the spinner. Remember, he had done the damage in the first innings.

Earlier in the day, Australia were bowled out for 270 after their overnight score of 222 for five. Stuart Broad was the wrecker-in-chief with his fifer. In reply, England were rocked early when Joe Root’s off-stump was pegged back by a beauty by Harris.

England have done well to recover now, but going by the patterns in this game, a twist can be around the corner. This pair can ill-afford a lapse in concentration as that could allow Australia back in the game. Neither side has been able to take total control and momentum has swung like a pendulum. Even as we are a little more than half-way through the Test match, there is no clear favourite.
Brief scores:

England 238 ( Alastair Cook 51; Nathan Lyon 4 for 42) and 123 for 3 (Kevin Pietersen 37*; Ryan Harris 3 for 40) lead Australia 270 (Chris Rogers 110; Stuart Broad 5 for 71) by 91 runs.

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)