Aussies trail by 166 runs, Watto not out

Australia face a formidable first-innings deficit in the Ashes opener if Shane Watson is unable to resurrect their hopes of victory on the third day.

Moeen Ali tormented the tourists with bat and ball in Cardiff on Thursday.

Ali added 51 runs to his overnight score, eventually falling for 77 as England posted a first-innings total of 430.

The tourists were 5-264 in response at stumps, Ali having dismissed their two classiest batsmen in Steve Smith and Michael Clarke.

Watson will resume on 29 alongside nightwatchman Nathan Lyon, with England holding a 166-run lead and the second new ball due in 10 overs.

Nobody in the XI attracts anywhere near as much scorn as Watson, who is now tasked with rescuing Australia after their top order faltered.

“We all desperately want to see him do well because we know how much he goes through and how much abuse comes his way,” Chris Rogers said.

“I don’t think he reads a lot of the papers or takes notice of what you guys say, but sometimes I know it’s going to hurt.

“Hopefully he’s going to go out tomorrow and score runs.”

Rogers, who batted superbly and fell five runs short of what would have been his fourth Test hundred against England, added the next session would be crucial.

“We have to get close so we can put pressure on England,” he said.

Smith, Clarke, David Warner and Adam Voges all made starts and showed promise on Thursday, but none of them kicked on like Rogers.

The 37-year-old has scored more first-class runs in England than any other batsman since 2006.

Rogers played like it at Sophia Gardens, until an outstanding spell from Stuart Broad unsettled him after tea.

The opener then became Mark Wood’s first Ashes scalp due to a miscued cut shot.

It was one of many dismissals that would have frustrated coach Darren Lehmann, given the docile pitch and ideal batting conditions.

“For a lot of us to get out the way we did is going to hurt, particularly when there is an opportunity to really make them count today,” Rogers said.

“I got 95 and there were three 30s … we think we are better than that.”

Smith helped himself to 13 runs from Ali’s fourth over, but the offspinner then started to curb the run-rate.

Smith and Clarke both fell dancing down the wicket to Ali.

“I think we’re ahead. That last wicket put us into the pole position a bit more,” Ali said.

“Hopefully we can get these guys cheaply tomorrow.”

Mitchell Starc dismissed Ali and snared a five-wicket haul in the morning, returning to bowl despite a sore ankle.

Australia have a three-day break before the second Test, meaning medical staff will have to carefully manage Starc’s niggle.

“The fact that he came back out and pushed through it speaks volumes,” Rogers said.

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