At the end of day two of the first Ashes Test in Cardiff, there is very little to choose between the two sides. England took the honours on day two and have probably just edged ahead of the Aussies, with three days remaining.
Resuming at 343-7, England's target would have been to reach a score in excess of 450. They fell just a little short of that target, as they were finally all out for 430.
They added 87 runs to their total in just over 14 overs, thanks mainly to an entertaining knock from Moeen Ali who scored 77 off just 88 balls, including 11 boundaries and one six. I would wager that there aren't too many better ninth-wicket batsmen in the world at the moment than Ali.
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A score of 400 plus is a good score on any wicket in any game, but this Cardiff wicket is very unresponsive to all types of bowling and England knew they were going to have to work hard, and keep chiseling away at the Aussie batsmen in the hope of forcing them to make mistakes.
England bowled very well and put in the hard yards that were needed and ended up getting their just desserts.
At the end of the second day's play Australia were 264-5, a deficit of 166 runs on first innings. Ashes debutant Mark Wood took his first Ashes wicket and what an important one it was, getting opener Chris Rogers out five runs short of his century.
It came at an important juncture of the game with Australia cruising along at 180-2 and looking very likely to pile up a big score.
The rest of the Australian top order all contributed runs, but thankfully none of them scored over 40. In fact, their middle order of Steve Smith, Michael Clarke and Adam Voges all got out in their thirties.
Taking the honours
England took the honours on day two and has their noses in front but it could all change very quickly with one mighty performance by a player from either side.
One thing is for certain, and that is, if the weather is set fair for the remaining three days, then there should be a result in this first Test match.
Ideally the result will go England's way, as it would leave us with an almost impossible task to win the Ashes back, should Australia take a 1-0 lead in the series.
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