Captain Ricky Ponting and opener Simon Katich scored unbeaten centuries during a second wicket partnership of 189 to propel Australia to a comfortable position on the second day of the first Ashes Test against England in Cardiff.
|Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting keep Australia in control [AFP]
At the close, Australia had reached 249 for one in reply to England's 435 all out with Ponting on 100 and Katich on 104.
Ponting, who became the fourth man to score 11,000 Test runs, scrambled a single to reach his 38th Test hundred off the penultimate ball of the day.
Katich's painstaking innings, his eighth Test century, lasted nearly 4-1/2 hours.
England captain Andrew Strauss rotated his bowlers, adjusted his fields and tried every ploy he could think of but was denied a breakthrough by the combination of a slow pitch and the skill and unremitting concentration of the two Australians.
Andrew Flintoff, returning to the team after a knee operation, took the only wicket to fall during a magnificent six-over spell immediately after lunch.
Australia opener Phillip Hughes, who scored 415 runs at 69.16 in his debut series in South Africa this year, gave a glimpse of his penchant for the unorthodox by slashing four boundaries through the off-side before lunch.
After the interval Strauss threw the ball to Flintoff and the big all-rounder responded by charging in from around the wicket from the River end and bowling four bouncers in his opening over.
He regularly exceeded 145km an hour, beat Hughes several times outside the off-stump and dropped Katich on 10 from a difficult return chance low to his right hand.
Flintoff was finally rewarded when Hughes, who had scored only eight runs in 24 deliveries after lunch to reach 36, edged a catch to wicketkeeper Matt Prior who took a fine catch low to his right.
England first innings (336-7 o'night)
A Strauss c Clarke b Johnson 30
A Cook c Hussey b Hilfenhaus 10
R Bopara c Hughes b Johnson 35
K Pietersen c Katich b Hauritz 69
P Collingwood c Haddin b Hilfenhaus 64
M Prior b Siddle 56
A Flintoff b Siddle 37
J Anderson c Hussey b Hauritz 26
S Broad b Johnson 19
G Swann not out 47
M Panesar c Ponting b Hauritz 4
Total (all out wckts; 106.5 overs) 435
Fall of wickets: 1-21 2-67 3-90 4-228 5-241 6-327 7-329 8-355 9-423 10-435
Australia first innings
P Hughes c Prior b Flintoff 36
S Katich not out 104
R Ponting not out 100
Total (one wicket; 71 overs) 249
Fall of wicket: 1-60
Graeme Swann, whose breezy 47 not out from 40 balls in the morning session helped push England beyond 400, bowled five maiden overs in a row from the Cathedral Road end.
But the Australian batsmen resolutely refused to take any chances with Katich content to work the ball both sides of the pitch and Ponting pushing it for singles with the occasional swift-footed pull.
James Anderson failed to get the ball to swing, Monty Panesar's left-arm spin proved innocuous and fast bowler Stuart Broad left the field for treatment on a calf strain.
At the start of the day England added 99 in 16.5 overs after resuming on 336 for seven.
Swann added 68 for the ninth wicket with James Anderson (26) and looked set to reach his second Test half-century when Monty Panesar was caught at slip by Ponting off off-spinner Nathan Hauritz for four.