ASHES 2015: Australia Bite Back With Record Partnership To Dominate Opening Day at Lord’s.

2nd Test, Day One, Lord’s.

Chris Rodgers and Steve Smith both scored centuries as Australia ended day one of the second test on 337-1 to seize control at Lord’s.

Following their heavy defeat in Cardiff, the tourists hit back with a five-star batting display from opener Rodgers and second best batsman in the world Smith.

Despite David Warner handing his wicket recklessly to England, the two batsman were confident on what was a slow pitch with little bounce in the capital.

Their partnership of 259 broke an 85-year record for an Australian second-wicket partnership. It had previously been 231 set by Bill Woodfull and Don Bradman.

Rodgers also overcame a record of seven consecutive fifties without converting them to three figures as he scored his highest test score of 158. As a result, he became just the fifth Aussie to score over 150 runs in one innings at Lord’s.

“It’s one of the proudest moments of my life,” said the Aussie opener.

“To get a hundred here is so special.”

Smith in contrast played like two different batsman. Taking 111 balls to make it to half a century, he smashed his next 50 runs in just 50 deliveries.

“The pitch was a little bit slow and if you got in you needed to go big,” said Smith.

“I wanted to make it count today and get up on that board. It was about keeping England out there for as long as possible.”

As Australia eye up a massive score in their first innings, England will be desperate to find more wickets on what will be a crucial second day.

The English bowlers will feel a bit of injustice, as they didn’t play entirely bad. Stuart Broad was, in particular, very consistent with the ball. His high-pitched deliveries were unplayable at times, but narrowly missed the bails.

Mark Wood also played well once he got going, but again his unplayable deliveries just went wide of the stumps.

The same can’t be said of James Anderson, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, who were punished when they pitched the ball too short.

“Hats off to the two guys who made hundreds – they played brilliantly throughout the day,’ said Anderson.

“They stayed patient, they attacked us when they could and made it really difficult for us to bowl at them for long periods of time and create that pressure.”

It was the first time in 22 years that England only took one wicket on the opening day of an Ashes Test match, and just the second time that only one wicket was taken in a Lord’s test.

England know that wickets are needed to get their foot back in the door and keep their Ashes lead in tact.

But with Michael Clarke and debutant Mitchell Marsh, who scored two hundreds in the warm up matches heading into the Ashes, to come in, things are looking good for Australia.

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ASHES 2015: Ali Contributes With Bat and Ball To Give England Upper Hand.

1st Test, Day Two, Cardiff. 

Moeen Ali justified the England selector’s decision to play him over Adil Rashid with an excellent all-round performance, as England gained the upper hand in the first Ashes test in Cardiff.

After scoring 77 with the bat, Ali also took two crucial wickets as visitors Australia ended the second day on 264-5. They are 166 runs behind England, who were dismissed for 430 all out earlier in the day.

Ali added 51 runs to his overnight total as he raced out the blocks in the early morning sunshine in the Welsh capital.

He then claimed the wickets of Australia danger man Steve Smith and captain Michael Clarke to leave England in a commanding position.

The decision to stick with Ali over Rashid was the toughest the selector’s faced ahead of this test match, but they will now feel more than overjoyed with their decision.

Ali looked in top form, and his wickets today also mean that he now boasts a better wicket per ball average (53) than past spinners Graeme Swann (60), Monty Panesar (75) and Phil Tufnell (91).

After being hit for three boundaries in four balls, the spinner confidently decided to again invite Smith on with a bowl, which read ‘come and attack me’. Smith though could only edge the ball, which was caught by Alastair Cook at slip.

He then caught and bowled Clarke on 38, just as the Australian captain was beginning to find his rhythm.

“In the first innings it was important that we got 430 – and the way we put the Australia bowlers under pressure,” said Ali.

“We are slightly ahead. A couple of early wickets tomorrow would put them under pressure. I would rather be in our position than Australia’s.”

Australia had made a decent start to their innings- with veteran opener Chris Rodgers scoring an impressive 95 before being caught behind from a Chris Wood delivery.

It was the seventh consecutive test fifty that Rodgers had scored for the Aussies, however he has failed to convert any of those half centuries into hundreds.

Following his dismissal, the frustration showed as Rodgers kicked the ground in disbelief and grudged off the field of play in a state of disappointment.

“I started to get some rhythm with my feet and weight. Once you hit some out the middle the confidence comes through,” said Rodgers.

“I’m just disappointed I didn’t make it count.

“The pitch is a bit two-paced now. You saw with the Adam Voges dismissal that kicked a little. It is going to get harder and harder, but if you set your stall out and you are happy to bat a long time there is still the opportunity.

“It has been an excellent day of Test cricket. England maybe have the slight upper hand but hopefully we can get a few more runs.”

If England can get back batting with a lead of 60-100, and then score well themselves in their second innings, they should be able to sneak an early victory over their bitter rivals.

The pitch in Cardiff is becoming more of a batsman’s’ nightmare each passing day. There seems to be less bounce on a wicket, which highly favours the bowlers (both seamers and spinners).

It would seem difficult for Australia to chase anything surpassing 350 in order to win this match, but don’t rule anything out- they are still searching for a first Ashes test victory on English soil for 14 years, that’s more than enough motivation for them to turn this test around in their favour.