KEVIN Pietersen turned his first Test hundred for 21 months into a chanceless, unbeaten 213 as England continued their domination of Australia at the Adelaide Oval with bad weather the only thing standing in their way.

Pietersen, without a century since March 2009 in Trinidad, moved from an unbeaten 85 into three figures in just under half an hour on a cloudy third morning of this second Ashes Test.

Only the rain could hold up Pietersen as a steady downfall meant there was no play after tea.

Even after his third-wicket partner Alastair Cook (148) was gone, Pietersen had helped England plough on to a teatime 551 for four - 306 in front as they scent the chance of a 1-0 series lead with three to play.

Pietersen's 17th Test hundred, and his first in 28 innings, arrived from 158 balls.

Australia did their best to becalm him in the afternoon, with defensive fields and lines, but he still doubled the dose from another 135 deliveries - having hit 30 fours and one six in all.

For England, it was a second double-hundred already on this tour following Cook's match-saving tour de force in Brisbane last week, as they topped 500 for the second successive innings - at a total cost of only five wickets.

Cook and Pietersen took their stand to 175 by the time the opener finally got an inside edge behind to a ball from Ryan Harris which snaked back into him.

Brad Haddin took an outstanding catch, leaping high to his right to see off Cook for the first time in almost 18 hours of batting since he took guard at the start of his unbeaten 235 at the Gabba.

For the record, he had to settle this time for 18 fours from 269 balls.

Australia began the day with a ball only four overs old but could not stop Pietersen.

Their increasing desperation saw them squander one of their two DRS options when Harris appealed for lbw against Pietersen on 91, only for video replay to verify Marais Erasmus' opinion that the batsman had got outside the line of off stump.

But Harris soon got his own back with two devilish short balls to Pietersen, the first appearing to graze the side of his helmet and the second bringing an unconvincing attempted hook high into the legside but away from any fielder.

Two balls later, Harris did get his reward - with the wicket of Cook rather than Pietersen.

Instead, Pietersen continued to farm a stream of boundaries off Xavier Doherty in particular.

He also struck the slow left-armer for six - a memorable lofted straight-drive after advancing down the wicket, hit over the longest boundary at the Cathedral end.

He and Paul Collingwood, the latter at the scene of his own double-hundred on England's last tour here, added 101 either side of lunch.

Then after Shane Watson got one through Collingwood's defences for a back-foot lbw, Ian Bell became Pietersen's latest support act in another partnership of substance and he had reached 41 not out by the break.

But rain which had started to fall in the middle session meant the covers went on at tea and the conditions had not improved enough for the players to take the field again.

That left captain Andrew Strauss contemplating an overnight declaration.