Australia in England / Features

England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 5th day

Pietersen the pulveriser

How Kevin Pietersen nailed the final blow in the Ashes series

On the ball with S Rajesh and Arun Gopalakrishnan

September 12, 2005

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Kevin Pietersen's maiden Test century couldn't have been better timed for England's cause. With the match - and the series - hanging in the balance, Pietersen strode out and belted the ball around The Oval, not only spending precious minutes at the crease but also scoring his runs so rapidly that Australia's slim hopes of chasing a fifth-day target vanished in a trice. Pietersen's 158 came off a mere 187 balls, with 60% of those runs, and 64% of the boundaries, coming on the leg side.

Pietersen's exhilarating knock also emphatically answered the suspicion that he was a front-foot thumper who would be found out by the Australian fast bowlers. That didn't quite happen, though, as Pietersen hammered 55 off 45 balls when playing back. And when the bowlers pitched it short or back of a length, Pietersen was quick to latch on, scoring 73 from 54.

During the course of the innings, Pietersen also settled a personal score with Brett Lee, against whom Pietersen had an average of just 20 (80 runs in 107 balls for four dismissals). In this innings, Lee was smashed for 55 off 48 balls, while Shaun Tait, the other genuinely quick bowler in the Australian attack, went for 22 from 12. Those numbers would have looked quite different, though, had Shane Warne taken that catch slip off Lee when Pietersen was on 15.

That dropped catch by Warne was the one blip for him in what has otherwise been an outstanding series. He ended with 40 out of 93 wickets that Australia too - that's 43%. In all series of five or more Tests played by Australia, only one bowler has been more dominant - Clarrie Grimmett took 44 out of 100 wickets against South Africa in 1935-36.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.
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