England has ended the first day of the second Ashes test match marginally ahead of Australia by getting to 364/6 at stumps. However, the Aussies will not be too displeased with their effort, having scalped 4/66 in the last session, before the seventh wicket stand of 31 saw them to the close of play.
England batted first on the flat Lord’s track that has seen six drawn games out of the last seven, after they won the toss and made it count to the hilt. Andrew Strauss and A. Cook saw off the first couple of overs before realising the nature of the wicket and went after Mitchell Johnson. Johnson’s bowling analysis read like he was bowling in a T20 game, and the pair smashed 126 runs in the first session without getting separated. >
Cook was severe on anything, marginally on his stumps, or too wide outside the off-stump, while Strauss gave him good company. Cook reached his fifty before lunch, while Strauss reached it after the break to get the hosts to an almost impregnable position at 196/0. By this time, the Aussie bowlers were tiring, and their only frontline spinner Nathan Hauritz had not only dropped a catch, but also dislocated his finger to be off the field.
Cook was on 95 when the breakthrough finally came, with the ball coming in and hitting the batman on his pads; Johnson providing the breakthrough.
There had been many question-marks over Ravi Bopara’s number three position and that seemed to be vindicated as he also fell over off a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery to be declared lbw, to leave England at 255/2 at tea. However, in the meantime, Strauss reached his 100, his 18th ton in test match cricket and he looked good for many more.
At the other end, Kevin Pietersen’s was a similar story to what we have grown to get used. He got off to an exciting start, but then did not survive too long and nicked one off Peter Siddle to the wicket-keeper to leave the hosts at 267/3 and the Aussies had a toe-hold in the door.
The toe became a foot when Paul Collingwood played an atrocious stroke to get caught at mid-on off part-timer Michael Clarke, while Matt Prior had no clue to an in-swinger from Johnson. And when Andrew Flintoff was also caught by Ponting off Hilfenhaus, the hosts were suddenly reduced to 333/6 and looked deep in trouble.
Stuart Broad negotiated the new ball and the hosts ended the day on 364/6, but with the newish looking cherry only five odd overs old, the first session will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the game. Strauss remained unbeaten on a captain’s knock of 161, and he will look to kick on and get past that elusive double-century; something he hasn’t done so far in test cricket.