The beleaguered tourists lost the wickets of skipper Alastair Cook and Michael Carberry in the first hour, both out hooking, leaving Pietersen, who has notched innings of 227 and 158 in his previous two Ashes Tests at the ground, as England's main hope.

At lunch under overcast skies, England were 65 for two, with Pietersen on 18 and Joe Root unbeaten on 29. Michael Clarke declared Australia's second innings at the overnight score of 132-3, setting the tourists the unlikely task of scoring 531 runs to win the Test and prevent Australia from going two up in the five-Test series.

England, who beat Australia 3-0 in England earlier this year, got off to a shaky start, losing Cook for one in Mitchell Johnson's opening over and Carberry 10 overs later. Cook's scalp was Johnson's eighth wicket of the match after he captured seven for 40 in England's first innings 172. The left-arm paceman now has 17 wickets at an average 9.05 in the series.

The skipper was out to Johnson's third ball of his opening over, hitting the ball straight to Ryan Harris at fine leg. It was a demoralising moment for England, needing to occupy the crease and bat out the final two days to prevent Australia from taking a firm grip on the series.

The cheap dismissal completed a dire Test for the skipper, who was spectacularly bowled by Johnson for three in the first innings. In his past seven tests against Australia, Cook has scored 359 runs at an average of 25. Carberry, who batted sensibly for 60 in the first innings, was out hooking Peter Siddle for 14 in the 12th over, leaving England 20-2. Nathan Lyon, positioned on the fine leg rope, took the catch just above the ground. Storms are forecast later in the day.


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