Man of the day
Kevin Pietersen came to the party just when England needed him on day three at Old Trafford.
Last Updated: 03/08/13 7:12pm
Yes, there had been a well-constructed half-century in the opening Test at Trent Bridge, but that knock had seen the right-hander resist his normal attacking instincts to dig in for his team.
His knock of 64 in Nottingham came to an end in unfortunate circumstances when an inside edge dismantled his furniture, while in the next match at Lord's he twice fell in soft fashion. The manner of his dismissal late on day two - caught driving tamely at Peter Siddle - had seen him come in for criticism, even with England by then well on course for a landslide victory.
However when the chips were down and with his side needing him the most, Pietersen once again came to the party.
His first international century of 2013 - which means he has scored one in every calendar year since his first against South Africa, the country of his birth, back in February 2005 in Bloemfontein - helped the hosts get within sight of avoiding the follow-on and, quite possibly, getting the draw they need to retain the Ashes.
It wasn't, though, without the odd scare. Indeed, in the opening stages of his innings it seemed the right-hander could get out at any point. There were several indeterminate wafts outside off stump to the seamers, his hands chasing after the ball as his feet seemed uncharacteristically planted.
Crucially Pietersen weathered the early storm and, as he spent longer and longer out in the middle, began to blossom.
He won the game of patience with Mitchell Starc, leaving ball after ball aimed to tempt him outside off stump before cashing in on anything short enough to pull.
It was when up against the spin of Nathan Lyon, though, that he seemed to really begin to warm to the task. Twice in succession he lifted the bowler who was seen as Australia's biggest danger over the top for maximums during a 115-run stand for the fifth wicket with Ian Bell, who made 60.
There was a life on 62 when Australia once again messed up using the DRS, opting not to bother referring an lbw shout off Shane Watson's bowling that would have been given by the third umpire on review.
Pietersen made them pay for not utilising the system to their advantage, reaching his first Test ton at Old Trafford with a lovely four played off the back foot over the top of point.
It was one of 12 boundaries to go along with those two sixes before he was trapped lbw by Starc for 113. The crowd stood to applaud a man who had royally entertained them on Saturday, while England's balcony rose to show their appreciation for a man who may well have just helped them keep the urn.