Cow Corner

Perfect start for Pietersen

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Thanks for joining me for this pleasing day for England; make sure you stick around for all the latest news and reaction. 

England 198-4 (52.5 overs): FLINTOFF WINS IT WITH A SIX! Freddie wins it with a booming straight drive down the ground off Harris to seal the win! Handshakes all-round; South Africa win the series, although England salvage a consolation victory. 

England 186-4 (50 overs): Flintoff is the new batsman; he looks keen to get the match over and done with, but is content to block out from Harris for the time being.

England 182-4 (48.5 overs): PIETERSEN OUT! The skipper gets an inside edge on to pad as Harris fires one in from around the wicket, McKenzie taking a simple catch at short-leg. The South Africans will love to have snared the skipper, even though it shouldn't have too big an effect on the run-chase, with just 15 more needed...

England 175-3 (46 overs): Morkel drops short again, and Collingwood whacks him over the top of mid-wicket for four. 

England 170-3 (44 overs): Morkel's problems continue; he is milked for nine off his first over back as Collingwood clubs successive fours at the start of the over, first pulled through square leg and then flicked off his pad through mid-wicket.  

England 161-3 (43 overs): Collingwood is having to pad up a lot of deliveries outside his leg stump from Harris, who is still trying to make something happen from the rough. Pietersen is being more aggressive; he clearly wants this run-chase over with and the celebrations to begin... 

England 156-3 (40 overs): So, Collingwood and captain KP are the two men with the responsibility of leading England through this slightly tricky patch and to the sweet promised land of riches and glory beyond. Pietersen eases some of the pressure with a flick out of the rough to mid-wicket. 

England 147-3 (38.2 overs): WHOOPS! Strauss gets an inside edge to one that turns from Harris, with Smith taking a comfortable catch at short fine-leg. Definite wobbles from England. 

England 147-2 (37.5 overs): BOWLED! BELL'S LEG-STUMP CARTWHEELS! Bell wanders across his stumps to Ntini, who fires one in at his leg-peg; Bell's waft misses the ball, and the South Africans have a second wicket. Surely too little, too late?

England 142-1 (36 overs): Another fine drive from Strauss brings four; South Africa have begun to pitch the ball up a lot more since the interval, but Strauss has been able to punch a couple of boundaries when they over-pitch. Just 55 more needed for victory now. 

England 134-1 (33 overs): Strauss is a little fortunate as an outside edge flies through the vacant gully for four; no third man as Smith continues to attack. 

England 123-1 (31.2 overs): COOK GOES! SOUTH AFRICA HAVE A FOOT IN THE DOOR! Ntini finally remembers that Cook has a slight weakness full outside the off-stump; he manages to find the edge, Smith takes a comfortable slip catch, and English hearts will start to flutter... 

England 114-0 (30 overs): Ntini takes the first over after lunch, and has a decent LBW shout against Strauss, although the ball just pitched outside off-stump. Cook then drives beautifully down the ground off the final ball to keep the momentum firmly with the home side. 

England 109-0 (29 overs): LUNCH: Fine, fine morning for England, who take full advantage of some poor seam bowling and attacking fields from South Africa to take a significant bite out of their victory target. Just 88 more runs needed to win now; victory should be secured about 3.10pm, I guess. 

England 100-0 (26 overs): Strauss is fortunate to get away with a slightly mis-cued drive off Nel as the ball slightly holds up in the wicket, his shot just out of reach of McKenzie at short-cover. Decent crowd in the Oval now; keen to tell their grandkids: "I was there when England won the first match of the great Kevin Pietersen's unbeaten captaincy..." 

England 87-0 (24 overs): A really poor first over from Kallis; Cook brings up his half-century with a crisp cut for four when the all-rounder again drops short. Nine from Kallis' first over; just too short, and the two left-handers milked him into the wide open gaps. 

England 80-0 (23 overs): Plain sailing for England at the moment; Harris is finding the rough, and some balls are turning with the arm while others are inexplicably spinning the other way (unintentional doosras), but there isn't the spitting bounce that really causes batsmen problems. Meanwhile, the seamers at the other end just haven't been able to maintain any pressure; there has been some loose bowling from Nel and Morkel in particular. 

Scorecard  

England 72-0 (21 overs): Amla has been in the wars this morning in at short-leg. A couple of overs after wearing a full-blooded sweep on the kneecap, he damages a finger after Cook flicks off Harris straight at him. McKenzie replaces him close in, which brings about much hilarity from skipper Smith at slip.

England 69-0 (20 overs): Nel must have been asleep at mid-on for much of the morning; has he not seen how confident Cook has looked off the back foot? The left-hander pulls clinically off another short ball for four as England continue to progress fairly rapidly towards their victory target. 

England 59-0 (18 overs): Nel is into the attack for the first time; he immediately gets on a better line than Morkel from around the wicket, but South Africa sloppily hand England four over-throw runs when Amla's shy at the non-striker's end misses the stumps and runs through. 

England 54-0 (17 overs): Harris is beginning to cause plenty of problems now as he consistently finds the rough, from which some deliveries are turning, and some are going straight on, and low. However, Strauss and Cook have been excellent over the last half-hour; they have begun to kick on after a tricky start and England are over a quarter of the way to the target...  Brilliant from Cook fifth ball of the over, coming down the wicket to punch through mid-wicket for another four.

England 38-0 (15 overs): Harris is into the attack for the first time; there is a little turn for the spinner as he tries to find the patches of rough outside the left-hander's off-stump. One delivery does find the rough, keeps low and beats outside edge and Boucher, running away for four byes. 

England 26-0 (13 overs): Cook helps himself to another four, rocking back and pulling through backwards square-leg as Morkel drops short. The bowler is really struggling with his line now; one ball in his previous over barely landed on the cut pitch and was taken by Boucher, diving in front of secons slip; another delivery was so wide it was actually caught by Smith at first slip. 

England 20-0 (12 overs): Cook finally breaks free of the shackles, pushing Ntini for four down the ground before pulling a short no-ball for another boundary through mid-wicket. There will be plenty of scoring opportunities for England over the next couple of hours; it is just a case of waiting for the bad ball.

England 11-0 (11 overs): It's slow going for England this morning, but the way that the ball is darting around I think they will be satisfied with just surviving the first half-hour without loss of wickets. Morkel is getting his movement off the pitch, but is just a foot too wide to cause too many troubles at the moment. 

England 10-0 (9 overs): OUT...BUT OFF A NO BALL! Smith cleverly puts a man in at leg-gully to Strauss...next ball, Strauss flicks off his legs straight to the man...but Morkel has over-stepped by a couple of inches. So frustrating for the tourists! Shooting themselves in the foot!  

England 9-0 (7 overs): Successive maidens from Ntini and Morkel, although the youngster looks angry with himself for not making Strauss play more in his last over. Down on the messageboards, terrysmith2104 is doing a fine impression of Roy "Chubby" Brown.

England 9-0 (5 overs): Morkel gets one to jump a little off a length and take the shoulder of Strauss' bat, although the ball falls safely. Finally, Strauss flicks off his legs through the leg-side for four to settle his nerves. Smith is keeping some attacking fields in; he knows the only chance South Africa have of winning this match is by taking wickets. 

England 5-0 (3 overs): Strauss looks a little nervous, by comparison. He edges Morkel just short of the floating slip Smith has in place. Strauss only averages 20 this series; a good score here would really boost his confidence. 192 more to win... 

England 4-0 (2 overs): Ntini starts.  Just a small crowd in at The Oval at the moment, although it might fill up a little. There is plenty of sawdust on the ground, helping to dry out some wet patches; we had a little overnight rain down here. Cook looks very relaxed...but then, he always does. He pulls Ntini for four to get England off the mark.

10.41: It is a bit overcast over The Oval at the moment, but it remains dry. England will accept a bit of swing in the air from the cloud cover as long as they are given a fair chance with the rain staying away. 

10.24: England may want to push on early in their chase of 197 to win this match, because there could be showers later on in the day; the last thing they want is to get stranded in the dressing rooms with 20 still needed and the rain pouring down... 

10.14: Well, here we are. Welcome to what should be a very interesting day of cricket. England are chasing a very gettable total; South Africa will want to finish a fine series on a high; Pietersen will want to get his spell as skipper off to a winning start. Stick with me; we'll find out what happens together...

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