Pietersen sweep costs England dear
England overcame a shaky start in Cardiff to make 336 for 7 on day one, but it could have been so much better but for that KP moment.
England demonstrated their resilience to narrowly edge a fluctuating first day of the 2009 Ashes series after fighting back twice to thwart Australia's efforts on the opening day in Cardiff.
Given the licence to play aggressive cricket by captain Andrew Strauss as the eagerly-awaited opening npower Test finally got under way, England bravely followed his instructions to deny Australia an important advantage.
Having won the toss and decided to bat first, England were twice in danger of surrendering that edge when they slipped to 90 for three before lunch and then lost two wickets in four overs in mid-afternoon and slumped to 241 for five.
But a thrilling and energetic 86-run stand off 95 balls between wicketkeeper Matt Prior and Andrew Flintoff provided England with renewed momentum and although they both fell shortly before the close, they helped steer their side to a promising 336 for seven.
It was a day's play which met all the expectations of a series which has been anticipated ever since England slumped to a 5-0 series whitewash Down Under in 2007, generating a capacity crowd at Cardiff's first day of Test cricket and a rousing atmosphere reminiscent of the golden summer of 2005.
England, as expected, opted for two spinners and overlooked Durham seamer Graham Onions, but it was Australia who sprang the surprise in their line-up by choosing off-spinner Nathan Hauritz and swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus ahead of experienced seamer Stuart Clark.
It was a selection which paid dividends with England slipping into early trouble as Australia's unfamiliar line-up emphasised their quality even without spearhead Brett Lee, who was ruled out with a rib injury two days ago.
Having cruised through the first half hour relatively untroubled, the momentum quickly swung back in Australia's favour through a stunning catch in the gully by Michael Hussey to remove opener Alastair Cook after he attempted to force Hilfenhaus off the back foot.
Lifted by that acrobatic, diving catch, Australia sensed a weakness in England's top order and set about trying to exploit it on a wicket that few players ever looked comfortable on and which may become increasingly difficult to score on as the match progresses.
Strauss was beaten for pace with a short ball from left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson, which he could only fend off behind the wicket and allow Michael Clarke to shuffle backwards to take the catch.
Essex batsman Ravi Bopara, one of England's big hopes for this series after centuries in his three previous Tests, followed shortly before lunch when Johnson demonstrated his skill with a slower ball which looped to backward point following a checked drive.
England were well aware of the importance of momentum and a partnership, which was superbly provided by the experience of Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood.
They added a crucial 138 runs with both players resisting the temptation to play aggressively and progressed cautiously towards setting the platform for a major total.
Pietersen, troubled by a right calf injury for the majority of his innings, was particularly restrained and scored only four boundaries in over three hours at the crease scoring a valuable 69, and Collingwood was equally conservative.
England at one stage went 21 overs without a boundary as Australia turned to Hauritz and the part-time left-arm spin of Clarke to slow England's scoring rate to a virtual standstill.
Umpire Billy Doctrove gave Pietersen one lifeline on 61 when he rejected a definite appeal for lbw from a Hilfenhaus yorker and the same bowler struck in his next over to end the partnership, tempting Collingwood into a tired-looking push outside off-stump which was edged behind to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin for a determined 64.
Hilfenhaus also nearly removed Pietersen again in his next over when he drove on the up to extra cover but Clark, diving to his right, put down the sharp, low chance.
It took the re-introduction of Hauritz to end Pietersen's innings when the former England captain chose his fifth ball to try a pre-meditated sweep shot despite the ball being pitched well outside off-stump, and succeeded in scooping the ball to Simon Katich at short leg via his helmet.
His demise was a telling blow for England as all-rounder Flintoff strode out to the crease still searching to recapture the consistency in his batting which proved so crucial in 2005, when he scored 402 runs at an average of 40.2.
Flintoff looked comfortable from the start of his innings, hitting Hauritz for a couple of early boundaries and contributing fully to the crucial stand with Prior.
Their stand was broken when Flintoff was bowled off an inside edge off impressive seamer Peter Siddle just three overs before the close and seven overs after Australia took the new ball.
Prior, who raced to 56 off 62 balls, followed in Siddle's next over when he was bowled by an inswinger to leave both sides satisfied with their opening day's work.
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