Rogers holds firm as Ali snares Smith

2015-07-09 17:33
Chris Rogers. (Rui Vieira, AP)

Cardiff - Chris Rogers joined a select group of players with a seventh successive Test fifty as Australia made inroads into England's first innings total on the second day of the Ashes opener in Cardiff on Thursday.

At tea, Australia were 145 for two in reply to England's 430, a deficit of 285 runs.

Veteran opener Rogers was 74 not out and Australia captain Michael Clarke 11 not out.

Rogers missed Australia's 2-0 series win in the Caribbean and the 37-year-old left-hander has said the Ashes will be his final Test campaign before retirement.

Painful blow

Shortly after lunch, England dismissed Australia dangerman David Warner for 17 when the left-handed opener got a thick edge off James Anderson and England captain Alastair Cook held a sharp catch at first slip.

Cook, however, left the field minutes later when an edge from Smith dropped short and struck him a painful blow in the groin.

Smith, now ranked as the world's number one Test batman, got after Moeen Ali's off-breaks with three fours in four balls, the first a classic drive from a batsman often described as "unorthodox".

England, lacking the sheer pace of Australia's attack, found wickets hard to come by in near-ideal batting conditions at a sun-drenched Sophia Gardens.

But Ali succeeded where England's paceman had failed by dismissed the in-form Smith for 33.

The world's number one ranked Test batsman got himself in a terrible tangle to avoid being stumped as Ali responded to his charge by sending the ball legside.

Smith got a leading edge and a fit-again Cook, belying his reputation for cautious captaincy, then held the catch having stationed himself in an unusual short mid-on position.

First abroad

But hearteningly for Australia, Rogers was still there after more than two-and-a-half hours at the crease.

His innings on Thursday equalled the world record for most consecutive Test fifties, with Rogers the first Australian to achieve a feat previously managed by Caribbean great Everton Weekes, Zimbabwe's Andy Flower, West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sri Lanka hero Kumar Sangakkara.

Earlier Ali, batting at No 8 posted his second-highest Test score, following his 108 not out against Sri Lanka at Headingley last year, as England passed 400.

Mitchell Starc led Australia's attack with five for 114 in 24.1 overs - his third five-wicket Test haul and first abroad.

But fellow left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Johnson - whose 37 wickets were central to Australia's 5-0 Ashes rout of England in 2013/14 -- bowled 25 wicketless overs for 111 runs.

England resumed on their overnight 343 for seven after Joe Root's well-made 134 had rescued them from 43 for three.

Ali was 26 not out and Stuart Broad unbeaten on nought.

Caught in the slips

When Broad, who bats left-handed, drove Johnson past mid-off for four it meant the bowler had conceded 100 runs in the innings.

Johnson was greeted by an ironic standing ovation from a packed stand as he returned to his fielding position at fine leg, with spectators rising to give him the reception normally accorded to a batsman who has scored a century.

Playing up to the role of 'pantomime villain', Johnson responded by doffing his cap and kissing the Australian badge.

But Lyon broke a handy partnership of 52 with his first ball of the day when Broad's bottom-edged sweep was caught by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Left-handed batsman Ali's freewheeling 88-ball effort, including 11 fours and a six, ended when he drove at a Starc away-swinger and was caught in the slips by Shane Watson.

Read more on:    wales  |  cricket

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