Collingwood and England dominate

England are in a commanding position at the end of day one of the second Test, after Paul Collingwood, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell all played excellent innings.

England surprised the majority at the toss, by choosing to go with the same XI who were battered in Brisbane, meaning Monty Panesar had to be content with watching another game from the pavillion.

What wasn’t a surprise was that upon winning the toss, Andrew Flintoff had no hesitation in choosing to bat.

However, a very good batting pitch was made to look anything but by the English openers, who struggled along at an excruciatingly slow pace.

With the score on 32, Andrew Strauss ended his misery by gifting a soft catch to Dmien Martyn at midwicket, off the bowling of Stuart Clark. Clark was looking menacing, and he did not have to wait long for his next breakthrough.

Alistair Cook flashed at one outside off stump, and edged it to Gilchrist to leave England on 45-2. Paul Collingwood then strode to the crease, fresh from his 96, and immediately started increasing the scoring rate, albeint mainly in the form of 1’s and 2’s. The pair guided England safely to lunch on 58/2.

After lunch, Bell and Collingwood seemed to be batting with more purpose, and looked comfortable throughout. Even the boundaries seemed easier to come by, and just before tea, both batsman brought up their half centuries off consecutive deliveries, against the backdrop of vociferous cheering from the now united Barmy Army.

England went into tea at 144-2, and in command. Straight after tea, Ian Bell smashed Brett Lee for two consecutive boundaries, but the excitement did not stop there. On the next ball, Lee tested Bell out with a short one, and the batsman could not resist. The ball flew up in the air almost directly in front of him, and Lee ran towards it, screaming “mine!” all the way. However, unbeknownst to him, Justin Langer was sprinting in from square leg with exactly the same intentions. Disaster seemed imminent, but thankfully for Australia, a collision was avoided at the last second, as Brett Lee took the catch.

With the score at 158, Kevin Pietersen strode to the crease, and the crowd knew that one way or another, something was going to give. Sure enough, his second ball was smashed to the midwicket fence off Lee, setting the scene for things to come.

Pietersen was in the mood, and he spared no-one, racing along at almost a run a ball. This seemed to inspire confidence in Collingwood, who also raced along almost un-noticed.

Come the last over of the day, he was not out on 98, but Pietersen had the strike. The first four from Lee were dot balls, but when he pitched the 5th one short, Pietersen could not resist. He failed to get control of it, and the ball flew up in the direction of mid-on, but just eluded McGrath who, it must be said, was a little slow in taking off.

This left Collingwood with 2 runs to get for his century, and a ball to spare. He did not bite the carrot though, defending to leave himself on 98 not out.

After their embarassing performance at Brisbane, England turned on the style today, and will be full of confidence for the rest of this test match, and indeed the series.

Australia are far from out of it though, and they will know a couple of early wickets will leave them in a strong position on day two.

England 266-3
Paul Collingwood 98*, Kevin Pietersen 60*, Ian Bell 60
Stuart Clark 2/25, Brett Lee 1/77

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