England fall just short after Pietersen fireworks
Fading light prevented England from claiming their first home 4-0 Ashes win
England’s James Anderson and Graeme Swann pose with a replica urn after the fifth Ashes cricket test match against Australia. REUTERS/Philip Brown
England, inspired by Kevin Pietersen’s brilliant 62, fell just short of a dramatic victory as the fifth Ashes test ended in a draw on an enthralling final day at the Oval on Sunday.
The hosts, chasing 227, were 21 runs short of their target when bad light forced the players off the field with four overs remaining, depriving a packed crowd of a thrilling finish and leaving England to settle for a 3-0 win in the series.
Captain Michael Clarke had declared Australia’s second innings on 111 for six and set England a target in a bid to force a consolation victory but it was the hosts who went close to sealing their first 4-0 victory in a home Ashes series.
England started their run chase positively and Alastair Cook hit two fours in the first over bowled by Ryan Harris.
Joe Root, on 11, edged Harris to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin before Cook and Jonathan Trott shared a fluent second-wicket partnership of 64 to lay a solid platform.
Cook was trapped lbw by James Faulkner for 34 and Pietersen strode to the middle in a perfect situation to display his attacking talents.
Pietersen and Trott posted their 50 partnership off 48 balls and Pietersen got to his own half-century from just 36 deliveries, including nine fours.
With the crowd sensing a famous victory, Trott also passed 50 before Pietersen fell with the score on 163, well caught by David Warner running round the long-on boundary off Harris. Trott was trapped lbw by Faulkner for 59 but Ian Bell and Chris Woakes kept the momentum going and England needed 36 from the last six overs.
Bell was run out for 17 by Starc’s direct hit and, with four overs remaining and England on 206 for five, the umpires ordered the players off the field to a chorus of boos.
The result was confirmed shortly afterwards and the awards ceremony took place in rapidly fading light.
It was an unexpected finale to the match after Saturday was washed out by rain, England starting the final day on 247 for four and needing 46 runs to avoid the follow-on.
Woakes, on 25, soon edged a good-length ball from Harris straight to Clarke at second slip but Matt Prior played positively from the start, clipping Siddle through mid-wicket for two to take England to the follow-on target of 293.