Australia moved to 273-5 on what was an even opening day's play in Adelaide, although three dropped catches from England will frustrate Alastair Cook and his side.
On a day which started with the surprise selections of Ben Stokes and Monty Panesar, England made steady progress through the Australian batting lineup on a fairly lifeless pitch at the Adelaide Oval.
After a morning in which the headlines were dominated by another racism storm, reported by the Daily Mail's Phil Gradwell, England passed up the opportunity to take full control on Day 1 with a disappointing day in the field.
|Australia 273-5 (91 overs)|
|CJL Rogers||c †Prior b Swann||72||167|
|DA Warner||c Carberry b Broad||29||32|
|SR Watson||c & b Anderson||51||119|
|MJ Clarke||not out||48||99|
|SPD Smith||b Panesar||6||17|
|GJ Bailey||c Swann b Broad||53||93|
|BJ Haddin||not out||7||21|
|Extras||(b 5, nb 2)||7|
Australia began the second Test in confident style, with David Warner racing to a score of 29 off just 32 balls before a strange shot selection saw him lob the ball gently to point—with Shane Watson joining Chris Rogers at the crease.
The pair looked in fine fettle as they racked up the runs for the hosts in the morning session, eventually both reaching half centuries shortly after the lunch interval.
However, the pair's almost faultless stand was broken up in the space of just a few minutes.
There we go - it's elementary for Anderson who gets Watson c & b for 51 and Australia are 155-2. Necessary wicket! http://t.co/bAPrhA0FKL— MailOnline Sport (@MailSport) December 5, 2013
Watson (51), in a major lapse of concentration, drove the ball straight back to bowler Anderson to take a fine catch, while minutes later Rogers (72) nicked a turning delivery from Graeme Swann to keeper Matt Prior to see the score tip in England's favour at 155-3.
The momentum would soon continue to build England's way as Panesar claimed his first wicket of the series, spinning a ball sharply to Steve Smith and clipping the top of off-stump to see the all-rounder depart for just six runs shortly before the tea break.
Captain Michael Clarke and George Bailey helped the Baggy Greens push on after the interval, aided by a drop from Joe Root as Clarke attempted to smash Swann through the leg-side when on 23.
Bailey, who had also been dropped by Panesar when on 10, was the aggressor of the pair and swiftly moved to 50 ahead of the new ball, only to see Swann take a wondrous catch diving at square leg to remove him for 53.
Is that a bird? It's Swann... He leaps at square leg to pouch Bailey's stinging pull. Aus 257 for 5 as stumps loom. http://t.co/ErtmPtzzgx— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 5, 2013
It was tough luck on Bailey, who had timed his hook excellently. Clarke, though, remained set on 48 at the end of the day where he was joined by Haddin, who was handed a reprieve by a poor Michael Carberry drop late in the day.
Another dropped catch! How much worse off would Australia be if all the catches had been taken? #Ashes— FOX SPORTS Cricket (@FOXCricketLive) December 5, 2013
The first day will go down as level pegging, with both sides feeling they could have done more to consolidate their position in the match. England, though, might come to regret their sloppiness in the field that should have seen both Clarke and Haddin back in the pavilion.
Instead, both will now resume battle on Day 2 at the far-from-packed Adelaide Oval.