Kevin Pietersen hit a magnificent 113 but Australia are well and truly in command after Day 3 of the third Ashes Test.

England finished the day on 294 for seven, still 34 runs short of avoiding the follow-on after Mitchell Starc took three key wickets - he was the pick of the bowlers after an impressive display from the Aussie seamers.

England lost Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the morning session to leave them 110 for four having resumed play with eight wickets in hand.

But Pietersen’s century, assisted by a handy 60 from Ian Bell, steadied the ship before Australia’s Ryan Harris broke the partnership and tipped the tie back in Australia’s favour.

Resuming the day on 52 for two, England had high hopes Cook and Trott would bat long into the day after the Aussies posted a massive first innings total of 527 for seven.

But Trott lasted less than 10 overs – a short delivery from Harris edged to slip, where captain Michael Clarke did well to take a sharp catch.

Cook, at that stage on 44 not out, added just 18 more runs to his total before he was dismissed off the bowl of Starc – although all credit must go to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin who took a sensational catch.

Cook’s flick down the leg side came off the face of the bat, and diving full stretch to his right hand side, Haddin snared a stunning one-handed grab to remove the England captain.

That paired Bell with Pietersen in the middle - and the two put on a 115-run stand to check Australia's forward progress. England’s most extravagant batsman has failed to fire on all cylinders yet this series, but Pietersen looked in good knick from the off today.

Nathan Lyon was dispatched for six twice in quick succession to bring up his 50, and Pietersen was happy to tick along at a steady rate – his 113 runs coming from 206 balls.

It was a landmark century for the star batsman - his 23rd Test ton for England - taking him past Graham Gooch as his country's highest scorer in all forms of cricket with 13,224 runs.

While Pietersen has struggled at times over the past two Tests, Bell has been superb and he looked good before a terrific delivery from Harris broke the partnership.

Rocking back onto his back-foot, Bell was beaten all-ends-up on the defensive as the ball nipped back and struck the top of the stumps.

Jonny Bairstow put on 22 runs from 51 balls but never looked comfortable and was removed off the bowling of Starc, caught by Watson.

By that stage, the momentum was completely with Australia, and England looked to hang on through the evening session, but Starc struck again – the second time in the space of three overs – to take the prize wicket of Pietersen.

A marvellous – and crucial – 113 from the England batsman but his side have it all to do if they are to salvage something from this Test.   

Matt Prior and Stuart Broad survived the final half-hour, but England still trail by 233 runs with just three wickets left in hand, and need another 34 to avoid the follow-on. 

 

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