England battle back in second Ashes Test

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Paul Collingwood finished within touching distance of a maiden Ashes century, after helping England battle back into the series and towards a promising position in the second Test.

The Durham all-rounder fell just four runs short of his first century against Australia in the first-Test mauling in Brisbane but did provide one of the few positives for the tourists during the 277-run defeat there.

His disappointment at missing out on three figures at the Gabba was shrugged off on the opening day of the second Test at the Adelaide Oval when he hit an unbeaten 98 to help England recover from a shaky start to reach 266 for three by the close.

Collingwood hit seven fours during his four-and-a-half-hour stay at the crease and shared a crucial 113-run stand with Ian Bell before teaming up with Kevin Pietersen again, with whom he added 153 at Brisbane, in an unbroken 108-run partnership.

His efforts allowed the tourists to recover from 45 for two, after captain Andrew Flintoff had won the toss and allowed England first use of Adelaide's traditionally batsman-friendly surface.

England's openers made a cautious but comfortable start and survived the first 14 overs until Andrew Strauss fell just three balls after the drinks break, mis-timing an attempted push through midwicket to the diving Damien Martyn at mid-on.

Alastair Cook followed six overs later - having battled to 27 - when he pushed forward to a delivery slanted across him and edged behind to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

Collingwood and Bell also both struggled during the early stages of their partnership to cope with the spin and bounce extracted by Shane Warne from the dry wicket.

They survived unscathed to tea, both reaching their half-centuries shortly before the break - but they were parted just three overs afterwards.

Bell had progressed to a determined 60 after more than three hours at the crease but seemed intent on picking up the tempo after tea and hit Brett Lee for successive boundaries through the off-side.

That positive attitude proved his undoing when he attempted to take on Lee's bouncer two balls later and mis-timed high into the air for a return catch, safely held despite the attentions of Justin Langer running in from midwicket.

Pietersen arrived at the crease and immediately began playing aggressively, getting off the mark with a pull for four off Lee and then advancing down the wicket to launch Warne for six over long-on.

Pietersen, who also narrowly missed out on a century in Brisbane, raced to a belligerent half-century off 69 balls and did his best to try to help Collingwood reach the magical three figures before the close.

Facing the penultimate delivery of the day from Lee, Pietersen got an attempted pull all wrong - but the ball fell just out of McGrath's reach, running back from mid-on.

Collingwood therefore had strike off the final ball, needing just those two runs for his century - but he could only block it out.

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