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Smith, Rogers put Australia in command of 2nd Ashes Test vs England

Australia cruised back into Ashes contention with a smashing batting performance on the first day of the second Test on Thursday. Opener Chris Rogers and Steve Smith scored fluent centuries as Australia closed on 337-1.

cricket Updated: Jul 17, 2015 13:47 IST
Ashes,Australia vs England,Ashes 2nd Test first day
Australia's Steve Smith, left, and Chris Rogers walk off the field at the end of the first day of the second Ashes Test against England. Rogers scored 158 and Smith 129 to help Australia to 337/1 at the end of day's play. (Reuters Photo)

Australia cruised back into Ashes contention with a smashing batting performance on the first day of the second Test on Thursday.

Opener Chris Rogers and Steve Smith scored fluent centuries as Australia closed on 337-1.

It's the first time in 22 years that England has taken only one wicket in a day in a Test. At the close, Rogers had a Test-best 158 not out, and Smith was unbeaten on 129.

After the 169-run defeat in Cardiff last week, Australia's performance on Thursday was the perfect response to captain Michael Clarke's pre-match appeal for his team to show confidence and aggression.

England took the only wicket on 78 in the first session, when David Warner had a rush of blood after hitting spinner Moeen Ali for two boundaries. He attempted a lofted drive from the last ball of Ali's first over, and skied the ball to James Anderson at deep mid-off for 38.

Rogers and Smith offered half-chances to England but they were not taken. Ian Bell, in particular, should have caught Smith at second slip on 51, but he could not hold on to the low chance.

"I've scored centuries at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and the SCG (Sydney Cricket Ground, so getting one at Lord's is the trifecta for me," a jubilant Rogers said.

Occasionally troubled by England's pace bowling, the two exploited numerous loose balls. Smith scored 13 fours while Rogers, who reached his century a few minutes after Smith in the final session, hit 25 boundaries.

Rogers, at 37, is retiring from international cricket at the end of the five-match Ashes series. He has had a sporadic career, playing once in 2007 and not being selected again for another six years when he was recalled at 35, when he was top-scorer in back-to-back Ashes series.

Rogers refused to confirm he would stick to his decision to retire.

"It's hard to say," he said. "People have criticised me for saying it, so all I want to do now is focus on this series."

The former captain of Middlesex, whose home ground is Lord's, said his knowledge of the north London ground was useful.

"The late cuts work really well here, and you don't have to hit the ball hard," he said. "It just glides away to the boundary."

The left-hander flashed at the third ball of the day and was lucky to see the edge fly just over England's slip cordon. After that, he offered little to England.

"That's where this game of cricket is so stupid," Rogers said. "I could have been out for a duck and, instead, I'm sitting here with 150 not out."

At lunch, Australia scored 104 after winning the toss. Unlike Cardiff, the Lord's pitch held few demons and there was little swing for England's bowlers to make use of.

Australia dropped allrounder Shane Watson and replaced him with Mitchell Marsh, who has already scored two centuries on tour in England. Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin pulled out, citing "family reasons," and was replaced by debutant Peter Nevill.

England bowled well in the afternoon session, and restricted Rogers and Smith to 87 runs in 30 overs, but could not dislodge them.

Australia accelerated as the bowlers tired. Smith sent the august members in the Lord's pavilion scattering with a sweetly struck straight six. He pipped Rogers to the century, reaching his in 161 balls and nine fours. A few minutes later, Rogers celebrated his fifth test century, reaching his in 209 balls in an innings that included 17 fours.

Australia scored 146 in the final session of 33 overs, as Rogers' and Smith's partnership of 259 continued until the close.

Smith acknowledged that winning the toss had been crucial.

"Happily we made the most of it," he said, adding the pitch was likely to take spin later, and be difficult to bat on for the last two days.

England captain Alastair Cook used seven bowlers, but a combination of strong batting and a placid pitch meant Australia was set for a big first-innings total.

First Published: Jul 17, 2015 01:38 IST