On the second day of the first Ashes Test, England were undoubtedly itching for an early breakthrough. And they would have got it too in the 12th over, had Alistair Cook not missed a chance to run out Simon Katich who had taken off for a single to turn back midway down the pitch. From then on, the batsmen were more circumspect about taking singles, but kept the scoreboard ticking along nicely. Watson took Australia to over the 50-run mark with a beautiful on-drive to the boundary off Steven Finn.
In the 24th over, Katich warded off an lbw appeal from James Anderson when he asked for a decision review that luckily went his way when replays showed that the ball would have gone over the stumps. In dramatic style, Katich returned in the next ball to smack Anderson for four to the fine leg boundary. But Watson's time at the crease was over when the same bowler got him caught by England skipper Andrew Strauss, in the 25th over for 36. England had drawn first blood and Australia were on the back foot at 78/1.
Ponting tried to steady the ship and hit a confidence-boosting four off Anderson in the 29th over. He and Katich took Australia into lunch with the score at 96/1. But there was a dramatic turn almost immediately after the break. Anderson struck again to remove Ponting for 10 by inducing an edge through to the keeper Matt Prior. Katich counterattacked by smashing Finn for a four in the next over. But the bowler had the last laugh when he caught and bowled Katich who had just reached his 50.
Australia were deeper in trouble at 101/3. But the next man to take guard Michael Hussey settled in nicely by bludgeoning Finn through midwicket for a four in the 41st over. In Finn's subsequent over, he emulated that shot with another pull to the boundary. Then Hussey got stuck into first-change bowler Graeme Swann, lofting him for a six over long on and then a couple of deliveries later, smacking him through point for a four. He powered two more boundaries off Swann in the 47th over and a recovery was on the cards for Australia.
But there was trouble at the other end when Finn got Michael Clarke caught behind for just 9 in the 52nd over. Clarke attempted a fatal short-arm pull to a ball that bounced well and paid the penalty. Australia were now in dire straights at 140/4. Then Swann got into the act to add to the Aussie's woes when he had the new batsman Marcus North, caught by Collingwood at short leg for just 1.
But the tumbling wickets were not going to curtail Hussey's charge and he hit Finn for another four in the next over just in front of square. Then the next man at the crease, Brad Haddin got after Finn in the 56th over with a straight drive past the bowler, bringing up Australia's 150 in the process. In the same over, Hussey got Finn away for another four, this time through mid-wicket where a diving Cook couldn't cut it off.