South Africa A v England XI, Kimberley January 27, 2005

Pietersen and Bell give England new impetus

England XI 252 for 4 (Pietersen 97, Bell 87*) beat South Africa A 251 for 8 (van Wyk 104, Dippenaar 66) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Back home: Kevin Pietersen hits out on his way to 97 © Getty Images

A fourth-wicket stand of 169 between Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen guided an England XI to a six-wicket win over South Africa A with almost eight overs to spare under the lights at Kimberley. The margin was comfortable, but until the last third of the match, England often looked anything but.

Pietersen and Bell came together with the innings tottering at 57 for 3, and 40 of those had come from the stand-in captain Marcus Trescothick after Vikram Solanki (6) and Kabir Ali (0) had both failed. At that stage, England, who rested all but two of the side which had played in the last Test - Trescothick and Geraint Jones - were in trouble on a slow and low pitch. But Pietersen and Bell led a gutsy counter-attack at more than six an over with none of the bowlers able to contain them. By the time Pietersen fell three short of a deserved hundred, the game was decided.

The day had started badly for England as Morne van Wyk and Boeta Dippenaar cracked 110 for the second wicket, which seemed to put South Africa A on target for a big total. After 31 overs they were 158 for 1, but a good containing performance by the bowlers pegged them back after that.

Morne van Wyk races along to 104 © Getty Images

van Wyk, who made an excellent 104, was especially brutal on James Anderson, whose first three overs were smashed for 28, and when he was replaced by Ali it hardly stemmed the flow as his first two overs yielded another 16.

Dippenaar clattered 66 from just 68 balls, including nine fours, but when he perished trying to loft Gareth Batty back over his head, some of the momentum went with him. The experiment of trying Adam Bacher at No. 5 failed, as he was bowled by Ali, stuck on the crease after making only 3.

This heralded a great containing effort by England, as the ball softened and the bounce became lower and lower. South Africa A might have expected to post around 300 after that jet-propelled start, but England took wickets at regular intervals to slow them down. Ali finished with 4 for 40 and Batty 2 for 42, including van Wyk who was well caught by a diving Alex Wharf three balls from the end.