The Ashes: Pietersen's double leads the way

Kevin Pietersen soared to a majestic double century as England streaked away from Australia on day three of the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval.

Resuming at 2-314 in reply to 245, the visitors advanced to 4-551 by tea, Pietersen (212no) having the time of his life against opponents who looked powerless to stop him.

Alastair Cook (148) was out for the second time in the series, halving his average to 225, and Paul Collingwood (42) suffered a relative failure, but Ian Bell (41no) was at his elegant best as he accompanied Pietersen to the interval.

Pietersen's hundred arrived with an overwhelming sense of the inevitable, despite being his first for England since the West Indies tour 18 months ago.

He saluted 200 with a swift single and a theatrical punch on one knee, and now has his previous best - 226 also against the West Indies at Leeds in 2007 - well within sight.

Ryan Harris (2-84) was clearly the most accomplished of the Australian bowlers, causing regular problems for the batsmen while Doug Bollinger (1-121), Peter Siddle (0-100) and Xavier Doherty (0-120) were all punished.

Ominously for the Australians, Doherty and Marcus North began to gain some sharp turn out of the footmarks wide of off stump - precisely where the England tweaker Graeme Swann will be landing the ball later in this match.

Sunday dawned cooler and overcast, a small mercy for an Australian team left haggard by the heat of day two.

They found a little early movement against Cook and Pietersen, though the batsmen were able to start their effort to build the English lead at a comfortable rate.

Pietersen went to 99 by pinging Harris through mid-on for four, then next ball levered a legside single to reach his second hundred in as many Tests at Adelaide.

His celebrations were as exuberant as those of the Barmy Army.

Harris' efforts deserved better than his one wicket, and so it was that he broke the stand during a fine over in which he nearly decapitated Pietersen then found Cook's inside edge for Brad Haddin to take an agile catch behind.

The poverty of Australia's tactical options was made plain when Siddle charged in at Pietersen with three men in the deep on the legside.

It was a field so obvious in its intention that Pietersen had time to prepare for his pull shot before the ball was bowled, and twice hammered boundaries between the three outriders.

Shane Watson (1-44) captured Collingwood with some nifty bowling after lunch, winning an lbw verdict when he nipped one back.

Bell had been considered England's most in-form batsman back on the first day of the series, but this was his first bat since.

He presented his usual stylish array as clouds closed in on the oval, and they appeared Australia's best hope of stopping an England innings of inexorable momentum.

- AAP

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