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The Ashes: Kevin Pietersen curbs instincts in England crawl

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The Ashes: England were 159-3 when the crowd update was announced (Reuters) The Ashes: England were 159-3 when the crowd update was announced (Reuters)
SummaryAustralia's Boxing Day Test has drawn a world record test crowd to the MCG.

Kevin Pietersen played a cautious out-of-character innings and lived a charmed life as English wickets clattered around him on an attritional opening day of the dead-rubber fourth Ashes Test against Australia Thursday.

Pietersen, under fire for his unproductive batting in England's troubled series, curbed his natural attacking instincts to keep the pressing Australians at bay before a crowd of 91,092, the highest single-day attendance for any Test match.

Pietersen went to stumps unbeaten on a fighting 67 off 152 balls, with Tim Bresnan not out one in England's 226 for six. In doing so Pietersen passed Geoff Boycott as the fourth all-time England run-getter.

The subdued Pietersen had some luck along the way and denied the impressive Ryan Harris both times, as England were pinned down by a disciplined Australian bowling attack on a slow scoring day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Pietersen, who took 12 balls to get off the mark, had some good fortune on six when he was caught by fielding substitute Nathan Coulter-Nile at deep backward square leg off Harris.

But Coulter-Nile was unable to stay within the field of play in taking the catch, staggering over the boundary marker, and Pietersen was awarded a six instead.

He had a second "life" on 41 when George Bailey had two goes in a fumbling attempt at a catch off Harris at mid-wicket.

Pietersen, who thrills and frustrates in equal measure with his prodigious batting skills, anchored the tourists' innings.

Harris, who was superb leading the Australian attack, ended a threatening 67-run partnership when he got Ian Bell to nick an outswinger to Brad Haddin for 27 in the 73rd over.

Bell's obdurate innings came off 98 balls in just over two hours, with just one four.

During his innings Bell joined Michael Clarke in passing 1,000 runs for the calendar year.

Perth Test centurion Ben Stokes fell late in the day when he edged to Shane Watson at slip off Mitchell Johnson for 14. He he was followed by Jonny Bairstow, replacing Matt Prior but bowled by a Johnson snorter for 10.

The Australians' tight bowling line restricted the English scoring and extracted the wickets of opener Michael Carberry and Joe Root in the middle session.

Carberry shouldered arms and lost his off-stump to Watson for 38 to waste another good start.

Carberry, who was dropped in the slips on two, had done all the hard work but was beaten by terrific movement off the pitch from Watson in the 34th

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