New South Wales 355-9 England 256-4: Power show seals England fight back

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The Independent Online

Kevin Pietersen gave notice to Australia's pace attack that he is ready to take on the short delivery after coping with the threat of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath on day two of England's game with New South Wales.

Pietersen was the star of an impressive batting performance, finishing the day unbeaten on 80 as England reached stumps on 256 for 4. There were also half-centuries from Andrew Strauss, for 50, and Alastair Cook, for 59, while Andrew Flintoff, the captain, was not out on 48.

It was a big improvement on last Friday's tour opener against a Prime Minister's XI, when England were bowled out for 181. Pietersen, Strauss and Cook were all dismissed by short balls in the 166-run defeat, and the South African-born batsman said it is something he has been working on.

"It's a delivery that I haven't had much of, at 90mph plus, over the last few months because we've been playing a lot on the subcontinent," Pietersen said. "I've realised that I've had to work on that particular delivery and my shot selection, and I've gone at it.The key is to keep your eyes on the ball as long as possible and sway if you need to."

Lee and McGrath, both Test certainties, spearheaded the New South Wales attack after the hosts declared on 355 for 9 shortly after lunch. The Blues' bowling line-up also features Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken, who are both in contention for the Ashes, and Pietersen admitted the match is a real test for England ahead of the start of their Ashes defence in Brisbane on November 23.

"I think a really big positive today is the bowling attack we faced," he said. "It's the toughest warm-up game that I've played with England, especially against those four pacemen."

New South Wales resumed on 325 for 5 at the start and after rain allowed only 4.1 overs in the morning, they declared after losing three wickets for 12 runs shortly after lunch.

Marcus Trescothick, for eight, and Ian Bell, for nought, were out cheaply as England slipped to 100 for 3 at tea, but Pietersen and Cook led the recovery before Flintoff got in on the action late on. "I think the boys deserve something positive written and said about them," said Pietersen.

Monty Panesar, however, is under no illusions about what he and the squad can expect. The campaign of intimidation started early with McGrath and Stuart McGill singling out Panesar and Ashley Giles for verbal intimidation. Panesar said: "It's going to be tough for me out there and it will be a matter of my own development how I combat it."