Runs galore as England need more
The second day's play of the first Test in Cardiff was a day for the batsmen as Australia ended the day firmly in control.
The tourists' odds for a 1st Test win, in a repeat of four years ago, have shortened from 12/5 to 9/4 as they ended the day on 249/1 with both Simon Katich and captain Ricky Ponting unbeaten after hitting centuries.
This came after England had caused Australia some problems themselves as they resumed their innings on 336/7 and in just 16.5 overs the tailenders had added 99 runs as England were all out for 435.
Graeme Swann was the star of the show as he ended the innings not out on 47, off just 40 deliveries. He was ably assisted by James Anderson who scored 26 and Stuart Broad who hit 19. All three played in a positive manner taking the game to the Aussies and made the 13/8 price on offer overnight for an England win look huge.
But there was a hint in the Australian bowling of what was to come as unlike on the first day the Aussie attack was unable to get the ball to swing and this proved to be the case all day long as the hosts failed to penetrate the Australian batting line-up to much effect.
The bowlers toiled away with Andrew Flintoff in particular having a good spell after lunch putting the young opener Phil Hughes under some pressure with some great deliveries. Finally with the score on 60 and Hughes on 36, England found the breakthrough, as the Ashes debutant looked to cut the ball but found an inside edge off a Flintoff delivery as Matt Prior took the catch behind the stumps.
After the opening wicket that would be it for the Three Lions as it became the Katich and Ponting show with the pair rarely threatened by a non-swinging ball and in addition the spinners were unable to get much turn off the pitch.
In the 36th over of the innings Ponting hit his 11,000th Test run as he continued his prolific Ashes scoring record and in the last over of the day he reached his 38th Test ton, three overs after his partner Katich had scored his first 100 against England.
The pair put on 189 for the second wicket and if they start day three as they finished day two then they should easily make it a 200 partnership at the very least.
England need a couple of quick wickets in the first hour to give themselves a chance of maintaining a first innings lead and regaining control of the Test. After the lack of swing and as a result the dominance of the batsmen it will need to take a change of conditions for the 1/2 about the draw not to be backed. As for England's price of 7/1, if the ball swings and wickets are taken who knows but it would take a brave man to back the hosts at this stage.
Day three will be make or break for England and you can join us In-Play for over-by-over betting and follow all the scores via our Live Scorecard.
Once again we are also offering another free-to-enter competition for day three. For the full details of the offer click here.