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Pietersen doubles up on Australia

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Kevin Pietersen

Kevin Pietersen marks his return to form with a sensational double hundred on a day that saw England savage the Australia attack

Kevin Pietersen powered to an imperious double century as England pummelled Australia closer to submission in the second Ashes Test.

In converting his overnight 85 into an unbeaten 213, he propelled the tourists to 551 for four - a lead of 306 - on the third day in Adelaide.

England’s advantage had reached such mammoth proportions that the early abandonment of play, following rain which wiped out the evening session, came as a mighty relief to an outclassed Australia side.

They simply had no answer to Pietersen’s brilliance, which manifested itself in the form of one of the most commanding innings he can surely have played.

Having resumed on 317 for two, England made rapid progress on a day that followed much the same pattern as the first two, with Australia comfortably second best.

The wickets of Alastair Cook, who finally fell for 148 to go with the double hundred he made in Brisbane, and Paul Collingwood for 42 were their only tangible rewards as Pietersen demonstrated why he remains the most destructive batsman in the England side.

He celebrated his first century since March last year with the sort of savage strokeplay which marked the early years of his international career, before pressing on to record the highest score by an Englishman at this ground.

Trademark clips through midwicket, powerful pulls and booming straight drives through and over the infield - his mastery of the Australia bowlers was total, and the contributions of Collingwood and Ian Bell, who ended the day unbeaten on 41, helped England sweep along at comfortably more than four runs an over.

Although more rain is forecast over the next two days, the rate of progress today means an England victory remains the most likely result on a surface which, though still largely true, has begun to show signs of breaking up. It will not have gone unnoticed by Graeme Swann.

That is for the future. Today belonged to Pietersen.

He had already flayed Doug Bollinger over cover by the time he collected the single off his hip that brought up a 17th Test century, off 158 balls, and the leap of joy and clenched fist that greeted it reflected his delight at ending a much-publicised barren run. Unfortunately for Australia, he was nowehere near satisfied.

The hosts, whose decision to refer Ryan Harris’ unsuccessful lbw appeal against Pietersen smacked of desperation, eventually found a way through Cook’s defences after he added 12 to his overnight score.

Harris extracted sufficient movement back in to the left-hander to locate his inside edge, and a wrong-footed Brad Haddin took a sensational one-handed catch diving full length to his right behind the stumps.

Cook had batted for almost 18 hours between dismissals, stretching back to the first innings in Brisbane, and his partnership with Pietersen was ultimately worth 175.

It was the second of three century stands in the innings and, with Pietersen and Bell's alliance currently worth 99, England are on the brink of achieving a feat they last managed in 1938.

The setback mattered little to Pietersen, who overcame the odd problem against the short ball early on today to pull Peter Siddle for successive fours and force Australia to rethink their bouncer strategy.

Kevin Pietersen

Pietersen signals the return to his best form with one of a succession of dismissive clips through his favoured leg side

There was little, in fact, the hosts could do to contain a rampant Pietersen, who danced down the track to hit Xavier Doherty for a towering six over long-off after whipping Bollinger disdainfully through midwicket from outside off stump.

Collingwood also scored with considerable freedom, particularly against the hapless Doherty - it was easy to forget he had not batted since the first day of the series - until he perished in the third over after lunch.

He was lbw playing back to a ball from Shane Watson that nipped back in, the fourth-wicket stand having yielded 101 in 21 riotous overs.

Bell picked up where Collingwood left off, though, opening his account by hitting Doherty over mid-on and driving through cover with his customary elan.

He was generally content to play a supporting role to Pietersen, who defied what appeared to be a hamstring problem as he cruised to the second double hundred of his Test career, spanning 283 deliveries and containing 29 fours and a six.

Collingwood’s own 206 on this ground four years ago was overhauled shortly before tea, but the rain which began to fall in the afternoon and grew heavier during the interval denied them the chance to further demoralise a visibly wilting Australia side.

For them, the sight of the covers on the pitch certainly beat that of Pietersen spanking their bowlers to all parts.

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