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Cook and Pietersen react to Agar fireworks

By Callum Dent & Chris Devine at Trent Bridge

An unbroken third-wicket stand of 69 between Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen halted Australia’s charge after Ashton Agar’s record-breaking 98 had given the tourists control on the second day of the opening Investec Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

England had a healthy first-innings lead in their sights as Agar strode out to the middle thanks to James Anderson, who returned 5-85, and Graeme Swann inducing a collapse that saw five wickets fall in 32 deliveries.

But from a perilous position of 117 for nine, the tourists managed to secure a 65-run advantage following the highest 10th-wicket partnership in Test history between Agar and Phil Hughes.

The left-hander, boasting a technique more befitting of a top-order batsman, produced an array of sublime shots all round the wicket as he recorded the highest Test score by a player coming in at the fall of the ninth wicket, surpassing the 95 West Indian Tino Best scored against England at Edgbaston last summer.

Nineteen-year-old debutant Agar, given the responsibility of replacing experienced spinner Nathan Lyon in Nottingham, dominated the 163-run alliance, as Hughes made a reserved unbeaten 81, by striking 12 fours and two maximums in a stunning 101-ball knock. 

Agar was agonisingly denied the first five-day hundred by a number 11 when he pulled a Stuart Broad short ball down the throat of Graeme Swann at deep midwicket, meaning Australia were dismissed for 280.

Two wickets in as many balls from Mitchell Starc heaped more pressure on the hosts, but Cook and Pietersen joined forces to help their side take a lead of 15 into tomorrow by contributing 37 and 35 respectively to a score of 80 for two.

Resuming 140 runs behind on 75 for four, Michael Clarke’s outfit began confidently with Hughes and Steven Smith both playing freely.

Hughes’ second driven four of the morning helped take the fifth-wicket stand past 50, while Smith greeted Swann into the attack with a crunching drive to reach his half-century.

But just when the tourists seemed to look comfortable in the middle, Anderson started to find reverse-swing that helped bring him the wickets of Smith, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc in successive individual overs.

Smith, on 53, got carried away and could only edge an expansive drive behind to Matt Prior before Brad Haddin, a centurion in the last two opening Tests of an Ashes series, fell for one as Swann produced a superb ball that cut back and breached the wicket-keeper batsman’s defences.

Prior gave Siddle a life, albeit a difficult chance off Swann, but made up for his error when taking a superb diving catch to his right off Anderson, who completed his 14th Test five-wicket haul when Starc, earlier dropped in the slips, departed in similar fashion.

Australia were folding fast and when James Pattinson was trapped plumb in front by Swann they had added only nine runs for the loss of half their team.

But what happened next was truly remarkable as Hughes and Agar defied all expectations and gave Australia momentum with their stunning last-wicket stand.

The teenager was content to play his shots from the off, pulling and driving on every occasion, but almost departed with just six to his name.

Pushing forward at Swann, the right-hander seemed to have left his ground when Prior whipped off the bails, only for the third umpire to award a marginal decision in Australia’s favour.

Agar never looked back and struck seven fours and a maximum in his run-a-ball fifty, with his partnership alongside Hughes, who was strong off the back foot, showing how batting had got easier with the sun out.

After showing no nerves moving through the nineties, the orthodox Agar looked certain for a century. But he was to be denied three figures when he hooked Broad, fit to bowl despite picking up a shoulder problem on the opening day, straight to Swann, much to the hosts’ relief.

England were soon in trouble before tea when Starc strangled Joe Root down the leg side and then trapped Jonathan Trott in front next ball, with a review proving successful for Australia, although replays showed it may have hit bat first.

Pietersen survived the hat-trick ball and weathered the storm with Cook after the interval before producing a couple of sweetly-timed drives down the ground.

Agar almost snared the prized-scalp of Pietersen, only for a thick outside edge to come back off Haddin’s right leg, with the destructive right-hander then crashing a drive to the ropes to bring up the half-century alliance.

Agar was struggling to make a breakthrough, despite applying himself better than yesterday, and Cook sent him to the boundary on two occasions before the close.

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Evening Session

Highlights of an evening session at Trent Bridge that saw England fight back

England 2nd Innings

6:32pm - STUMPS - Eng 80/2 and lead by 15; Cook 37, Pietersen 35 - Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook play out the final over and can be very satisfied with their efforts this evening. Having joined forces with England on the rack at 11 for two they have shared 69 in just over 35 overs to leave the match fascinatingly poised heading into day three.

6:24pm - Shane Watson is going to have a bowl before stumps. There will be time for one more after this by the looks of things. England are 79 for two.

6:13pm - Siddle is back from the Pavilion End and these final overs of day two could well prove hugely significant. Both Cook and Pietersen have dug in superbly thus far.

6:02pm - A late cut from Cook results in another boundary. However, Agar is posing more of a threat than he did in the first innings and England need to remain focussed as we approach the close of play.

5:48pm - Cook drives Agar through cover-point to put England ahead before being inconvenienced by sharp turn.

5:39pm - CHANCE - Perhaps more of a scare than a chance this, but Pietersen gets lucky when diverting an Agar delivery into wicketkeeper Brad Haddin's right leg. Agar's next ball is thumped through the covers to herald the fifty stand. England trail by three.

5:32pm - Siddle completes another maiden. Cook and Pietersen are refusing to be tempted by deliveries outside off stump. Here comes Starc for another crack from the Pavilion End.

5:27pm - With 17 overs remaining in the day - and we may struggle to get all of those in before 6:30pm - England are 57 for two and eight behind. Pietersen continues to benefit from playing straight and has 25 to his captain's 24. Both men have adapted well to the match situation.

5:16pm - Time for our last drinks break of the day. Cook has faced 23 scoreless deliveries in a row.

5:07pm - Siddle completes Australia's fourth maiden in five overs. England will not mind making slow progress providing they can keep wickets in hand.

4:53pm - That’s glorious from Pietersen, who once again presents the full face of the bat to collect four, this time off Siddle.

4:46pm - England's vastly experienced third-wicket pair continue to progress steadily following the respective introductions of Peter Siddle and Shane Watson. If you would like to see highlights of the afternoon session, they have just been added in a few paragraphs down this page.

4:31pm - Pietersen sweeps powerfully for four and moves into double figures. England are 34 for two and 31 behind.

4:20pm - Here comes Ashton Agar. Having astounded us with the bat, can he make an impression with the ball? The left-arm spinner's second delivery keeps low out of the rough.

4:14pm - Pietersen exhibits his class with an effortless drive down the ground. Australia's new-ball pair are pitching the ball up on a regular basis.

4:10pm - Alastair Cook picks up two streaky fours in succession off James Pattinson, a bottom-edge narrowly evading the stumps before another nick flies to the left of second slip. Pietersen is off the mark with a quick single.

4:01pm - Kevin Pietersen survives the hat-trick ball from Mitchell Starc, who finishes his fourth over with figures of 2-2. England need a substantial partnership.

Afternoon Session

Highlights of the afternoon session on day two at Trent Bridge, which saw Ashton Agar fall two short of a stunning hundred

3:41pm - WICKET! Trott lbw Starc 0 and TEA - Eng 11/2 - Things go from bad to worse for England! Starc sees an lbw appeal turned down, but this time a review does the trick for Australia. Trott registers a golden duck but is not impressed; he thinks he hit that. That will be tea and the hosts have plenty of work to do.

3:36pm - WICKET! Root c Haddin b Starc 5; Eng 11/1 - Root will not see out the session. He is strangled down the leg side facing Starc and that is a big wicket for Australia.

3:34pm - Cook and Root are eschewing risk as they attempt to see out the session. There will be time for two more overs before tea and England are 10 without loss.

3:27pm - Having been bowled by a Peter Siddle yorker earlier in the game, Root does well to dig out a full ball from Starc that tailed in late. Starc finds the edge of Cook soon after, but the ball drops short of third slip.

3:18pm - Cook was caught behind in the first innings looking to drive a full ball from Pattinson and almost falls victim to a similar delivery when pushing uncertainly outside off. England will just want to make it through to tea here. There is so much time left in the game.

3:10pm - REVIEW - Australia go up in unison as Mitchell Starc pins Root on the front pad with an inswinger. That was doing a little too much, however, and Australia's review proves unsuccessful.

3:06pm - As the Trent Bridge crowd catch their breath and attempt to take in what they have just seen, Alastair Cook and Joe Root get England's second innings under way. Both men are off the mark swiftly in James Pattinson's opening over.

Australia 1st Innings

2:53pm - WICKET! Agar c Swann b Broad 98; Australia 280 all out - Would you believe it?! Poor old Agar! Needing two more to reach the first hundred by a number 11 in Test history, he pulls a bumper from Broad straight to Swann in the deep. That ends an extraordinary innings that will go down in Ashes folklore and a record-breaking partnership of 163. Hughes is unbeaten on 81 and Australia have a first-innings lead of 65.

2:47pm - Broad tests out Agar with some short stuff, but the youngster is equal to the task. A thick edge off Swann then slides past slip, taking Agar to 96 - the highest score by a Test number 11.

2:40pm - Graeme Swann is introduced and finds sharp turn to cause Agar some discomfort.

2:38pm - More history is made as Agar and Hughes take their alliance beyond the previous record last-wicket stand of 151. The teenager has 91.

2:33pm - England just cannot find a way to break this partnership, which stands at 147. The highest 10th-wicket stand in Test history is 151, but perhaps not for long.

2:24pm - Good grief! Agar produces the shot of the day so far, a disdainful flick past mid-on off Anderson bearing similarities to one of Kevin Pietersen’s famous flamingo strokes.

2:20pm - Agar pulls and drives Stuart Broad through midwicket for four to reach 79. I really cannot overstate how well the debutant has played in this innings. There has been no agricultural slogging, just well-balanced, orthodox strokeplay.

2:15pm - James Anderson is now operating from the Pavilion End. His first over after lunch proves expensive, with five runs off the bat coming either side of four leg-byes.

2:11pm - We are all ready for the second session of day two. Tea will be taken at the usual time of 3:40pm, providing Phil Hughes and Ashton Agar are not still batting!

Morning Session

Highlights of a remarkable morning session on day two at Trent Bridge

1:32pm - LUNCH - Aus 229/9; Hughes 63, Agar 69 - One of the most remarkable sessions you could ever hope to witness draws to a belated close. Ashton Agar, with the aid of Phil Hughes, has turned this Test match on its head after England looked to have seized control on the back of James Anderson's stunning five-for.

1:23pm - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP - A cover-driven four from Hughes takes this astonishing stand into three figures. Broad then induces an edge that flies through the vacant second slip region.

1:20pm - Agar steers Swann to the third man rope to level the scores. I was at Edgbaston last summer when Tino Best came close to a stunning hundred from number 11, but this has been a much more controlled and impressive innings. Broad is about to bowl for the first time in the innings.

1:16pm - FIFTY! Hughes (94b 5x4 0x6) - Hughes may have been completely overshadowed by Agar, but the former has certainly played an important role in dragging Australia towards parity. England's lead is down to eight.

1:11pm - Agar dances down the track to thump Swann back over his head for six more. Australia subsequently pass 200 and heaven only knows what will happen next in this remarkable, topsy-turvy encounter.

1:07pm - FIFTY! Agar (50b 7x4 1x6) - The Trent Bridge crowd rise to salute Agar, who moves to 50 with a thick outside edge down to third man for two. He has batted superbly, having been faced with a chaotic situation when joining Hughes with the score reading 117 for nine.

1pm - We would normally be taking lunch now, but play continues with Australia nine down.

12:56pm - Anderson is back, yet Agar - 46 not out - remains and now boasts the highest score on debut from a Test number 11. Well batted young man!

12:50pm - Finn persists with the tactic of bowling short and Agar once more pulls convincingly to overtake his partner. The 19-year-old's eighth boundary then reduces Australia's deficit to 37. No number 11 has ever scored a fifty on Test debut, but Agar has 43...

12:45pm - Another gorgeous stroke from Agar, whose technique is extremely impressive, flies to the cover rope and brings up the fifty partnership.

12:40pm - This is all becoming a bit frustrating, although Australia's final pair have certainly proved there is nothing wrong with the pitch. Finn is guilty of dropping short again and Agar pulls for four more. He has nearly caught up with Hughes.

12:36pm - Wowzers! Agar comfortably clears long-off with a terrific blow off Swann. He has 25 and may not bat at 11 too often after this. Australia trail by 58.

12:25pm - After paddling Swann fine for four, Agar drills Finn through point to move to 14. This 10th-wicket partnership is now worth 23, handy runs in a low-scoring encounter.

12:20pm - CHANCE - Agar survives a very tight stumping call off Swann. That was mightily close to being the end of Australia's innings.

12:16pm - Debutant Ashton Agar certainly has more batting ability than most who come in at 11. The teenager drives Anderson down the ground for four to take Australia to 130.

12:11pm - This dry pitch must have Swann licking his lips. He gets another one to grip and is unfortunate not to find Hughes' edge.

12:08pm - Poor old Hughes has had to watch Australian wickets tumble around him. He's still there on 26 and has just cracked Anderson through cover-point in classy fashion.

11:59am - WICKET! Pattinson lbw Swann 2; Aus 117/9 - Third time lucky for Swanny! Pattinson looks all at sea against the spinner and is unable to survive a third appeal in the over, having been trapped plumb in front by one that held its line from round the wicket. The batsman's unsuccessful review appeared a little desperate and Australia have now lost five wickets for nine runs in 32 balls!

11:57am - It is hard to believe that batting appeared so straightforward just half an hour ago. Anderson is now making the ball talk and there is plenty of assistance for Swann, who sees lbw appeals against Hughes and Pattinson turned down.

11:50am - WICKET! Starc c Prior b Anderson 0; Aus 114/8 - This is a special display from Anderson! He completes a magnificent five-wicket haul by having Starc caught behind. The left-hander was bamboozled by more reverse-swing as he poked uncertainly outside off.

11:46am - CHANCE - It's all happening here! Swann shells a regulation chance at second slip to reprieve Mitchell Starc, who has yet to score. Anderson must be content with four wickets, for the time being at least.

11:43am - WICKET! Siddle c Prior b Anderson 1; Aus 114/7 - No mistake from Prior this time. He dives to his right to take a good low catch after Anderson induced a nick from Siddle with a fine delivery that nipped away.

11:40am - CHANCE - Swann finds the outside edge of Peter Siddle, but the ball deflects off Matt Prior's pad to safety. In fairness to England's keeper, that was an incredibly difficult chance.

11:37am - WICKET! Haddin b Swann 1; Aus 113/6 - There will be no hundred for Haddin in this innings! Swann finds big turn from outside off to bowl the wicketkeeper-batsman as he plays back.

11:36am - It looks as though Anderson found a hint of reverse-swing in that successful over. Brad Haddin, a centurion in the last two opening Tests of an Ashes series, is the new batsman for Australia.

11:31am - WICKET! Smith c Prior b Anderson 53; Aus 108/5 - This is a timely breakthrough for England! Smith gets away with one play-and-miss but edges behind when attempting to drive Anderson's next ball.

11:26am - FIFTY! Smith (72b 7x4 1x6) - A cover-driven four from Hughes takes Australia into three figures. Graeme Swann is subsequently introduced and his first ball is thumped through the off side by Smith to bring up an impressive half-century for the right-hander. Stuart Broad pops off the field but returns swiftly.

11:19am - Short bowling does not look to be the way to go on this pitch. Smith frees his arms to pick up four more, but survives a half-hearted lbw appeal when Finn adjusts his length. With the skies clear, we are not seeing the swing that was in evidence yesterday.

11:15am - Hughes cuts Anderson for the first boundary off the bat and Australia will be very happy with their early work this morning as the score nears three figures.

11:12am - Finn's second over of the morning begins and ends with the ball glancing off Phil Hughes' hip for four leg-byes.

11:04am - Steven Finn looks set to start with a maiden, only for Steven Smith to pull his sixth ball for three. The batsman didn't middle that one, but managed to clear the fielder at midwicket. James Anderson predictably opens up from the Radcliffe Road End.

Pre-Play News

10:58am - Anyway, that's quite enough about day one. It's time for day two to begin. Steven Smith and Phil Hughes have 38 and seven to their respective names, the former having impressed thus far. 

10:54am - Jonathan Trott spoke to ecb.co.uk this morning. "Yesterday wasn’t ideal but we brought ourselves back into the game," said the batsman. "We’re going to have to bowl well today to hopefully restrict them and take the lead maybe."

The full interview with Trott can be seen in the video below.

10:30am - Broad's availability is a big boost to England, particularly as today looks to be a much better day for batting. The ball swung around under overcast skies yesterday, but we have glorious sunshine in Nottingham right now.

10:24am - We have a positive update on Broad. He passed his fitness test out in the middle and will join the team on the field. The seamer is expected to be able to bowl.

10:15am - England's fine efforts with the ball yesterday evening were all the more impressive given the absence of Stuart Broad, who did not take the field after being struck on the shoulder when batting. Broad has had a bowl this morning, so hopefully he will be able to get involved when play recommences.

10:05am - Australia will resume on 75 for four, trailing by 140 runs. If you would like to see highlights of the opening day, together with a selection of other videos, they can be found here.

10am - Good morning and welcome to ecb.co.uk's live coverage of the first Investec Ashes Test between England and Australia. Fourteen wickets fell on a frantic opening day at Trent Bridge. I wonder what today has in store? 

Investec Ashes highlights

Watch highlights from every Investec Ashes Test on ecb.co.uk - plus Investec Tests v New Zealand - plus a full highlights archive