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December 5, 2010
There was a sense of inevitability about Kevin Pietersen's century. Twenty-one months may have elapsed since he last reached the milestone at Trinidad in March 2009, but from the moment he resumed on 85 not out overnight, there was not a spectator in the whole of Adelaide who believed he'd throw it away. Sure enough, in the fifth over of the day, he patted Ryan Harris into the leg-side, and completed his milestone with an ecstatic leap to the non-striker's end. From there he settled into a more restrained jog, as he peeled off his helmet and waved to all corners with a broad grin tinged with more than a hint of relief. He was back, but after waiting this long, he was far from finished.
The Ego has relanded
One-hundred-and-twenty balls later, however, Pietersen's reaction was joy unconfined. Having gone to tea on a familiar score of 158 - the total for which he had been dismissed three times in Tests already, including here in 2006-07 and at The Oval in 2005 - he eased past that bogey-number and sprinted for the hills. Xavier Doherty was powerless to intervene, and it was his delivery that was pushed wide of cover for Pietersen to charge through to his second Test double-century. This time there was no restraint. He ran a full 20 metres past the stumps at the non-striker's end, dropped to his knee in a body-builder's fist-pump, and lapped up the acclaim like a man who once again believed he was his destiny to dominate all opponents.
Over of the day
Ryan Harris has been Australia's best bowler of the game, which isn't saying a huge amount. But he delivered a fierce over to Pietersen and Cook in the opening session when Australia were desperate for a wicket. After forcing Pietersen to hop away from a searing bouncer, Harris followed up with another spot-on short ball, which the batsman pulled short of the man at deep square leg. That left Cook on strike and later in the over he inside-edged to Brad Haddin, who leapt for a fine one-handed take.
If Australia's afternoon papers had not died a death in the 1970s, those three words splashed across the city's newsstands would have sufficed to describe the sense of disbelief that greeted the end of Cook's vigil, just as they were once used to tell of Don Bradman's dismissals. He was into his 19th straight hour of batting since the third day at Brisbane and his 24th in all for the series, when he finally made his misjudgement, with exactly 450 runs to his series tally. The crowd rose in unison to acclaim a monumental feat of endurance, but with Pietersen into his stride, Australia did not believe that their suffering was over.
Shortly after Pietersen brought up his century, the Australians tried bouncing him through Peter Siddle. Three men were set back on the fence - at fine leg, behind square, and in front of square - and Siddle aimed short. Pietersen was in such good touch that the threats didn't concern him. He hooked one so well that Xavier Doherty didn't see it at backward square, and he unleased a similar shot from the next ball. Doherty saw this one, but it didn't matter. It raced over the rope and Pietersen powered to 120.
Referrals have been a feature of this game, along with lots of England runs and wickets, but there was no complaint from anyone when Paul Collingwood was lbw to Shane Watson. Somehow, Watson managed to get a ball to cut back on the flat surface, and it struck Collingwood right in front. In a period where batsmen are keen to make an instant t-sign for a review, Collingwood made a beeline for the dressing room.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo and Peter English is Australasian editorFeeds: Andrew Miller
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