Starc ends Pietersen's defiance

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 August, 2013, 3:37am

Mitchell Starc played a key role as Australia tried to stay alive in the Ashes series yesterday, claiming the vital wicket of centurion Kevin Pietersen in the third test.

Pietersen hit 113 as England tried to avoid the follow-on, but was out lbw by Starc, with England on 294-7 at stumps.

Pietersen's fourth-wicket stand with Ian Bell (bowled by Ryan Harris for 60) seemed to have given England hope as they replied to the Australians' mammoth 527-7 declared. Their priority was to reach the follow-on mark of 328, making a draw likely and wrapping up a third straight Ashes series for the hosts, who are 2-0 ahead.

But Starc took Jonny Bairstow's wicket, caught by Shane Watson, before finally ending Pietersen's defiance.

Meanwhile, Australia captain Michael Clarke hailed his team-mates after his masterful century on the second day.

"It's about time, I guess," he said when asked about his highest score against England and first test ton at number four.

"I think the team should be extremely proud of the position we are in at the moment. But we have a lot of work ahead, the wicket is pretty flat and there's not much out there for the bowlers.

"[Our comeback] shows a lot of character. I'm pleased with the first two days but it is irrelevant if we don't win the test."

Ever the perfectionist, Clarke was upset he did not snare England captain Alastair Cook on 15 at slip late on day two when the opener edged Nathan Lyon onto wicketkeeper Brad Haddin's knee and the ball fell short of the Australia captain. "I probably should have had Alastair Cook if I hadn't been sat on my heels."