Rogers leads Australia fightback; England digs out top order

CARDIFF, Wales, July 9: England started and finished day two of the Ashes series opener admirably on Thursday, with Australia still trying to find an edge at sun-bathed Sophia Gardens.
In the morning, the last three England wickets netted an invaluable 87 runs to lift the total to 430 all out. England then dug out Australia's top order in less than two sessions on the passive pitch, and slowed down the visitors to 264-5 at stumps, trailing by 166 runs.
It was still anybody's test.
At the crease were Shane Watson on 29, and nightwatchman Nathan Lyon on 6.
Opener Chris Rogers looked set to blow away England by featuring in 50-plus partnerships for the first three wickets.
The Australian with the most experience in English conditions, Rogers, who turns 38 next month, made batting look effortless as he picked gaps with ease, defended safely, attacked the short ball, and tucked away balls off his legs.
When he brought up his 50 after lunch, he became the fifth batsman, and first opener, to score seven consecutive 50s. The previous six scores were last December-January at home against India.
Rogers scored 20 off 17 balls to rush from 75 to 95 after tea, and a fifth test century was imminent. But he edged behind, glanced at the catch, and walked off, leaving fast bowler Mark Wood to celebrate his first Ashes wicket.
It was the second time in three innings he was out for 95. He used up only 133 balls, hit 11 boundaries, and his first six in a test.
Rogers dominated the opening stand of 52 with David Warner, who overturned a leg-before decision off James Anderson on 13, but perished on 17, trying to drive the fast bowler but nicking it.
Rogers and the equally prolific Steve Smith upped the ante with 77 together in 19 overs through the middle session.
Smith, the third highest run-scorer in test cricket over the last 13 months at an average of 97, went after Moeen Ali, and was successful at first.
But the third time in the same over that he charged at Ali, the spinner bowled down his legside. Smith muddled trying to adjust his feet and spooned the ball to Alastair Cook at mid-on. He departed for 33, just before tea.
Captain Michael Clarke joined Rogers and they clicked immediately, sharing 51 off 58 balls.
Then Rogers was out at 180-3, and when Clarke was caught and bowled by Ali for 38, the momentum shifted slightly to England with more than an hour left under blue skies. Agencies
Source: Agencies



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