Ponting, Katich make England toil at Cardiff

CARDIFF (Reuters) - Australia captain Ricky Ponting and opener Simon Katich scored unbeaten centuries during a second wicket partnership of 189 on the second day of the first Ashes test against England on Thursday. At the close, Australia had reached 249 for one in reply to England's 435 all out with Ponting on 100 and Katich on 104. Ponting, who became the fourth man to score 11,000 test runs, scrambled a single to reach his 38th test hundred off the penultimate ball of the day. Katich's painstaking innings, his eighth test century, lasted nearly 4-1/2 hours. England captain Andrew Strauss rotated his bowlers, adjusted his fields and tried every ploy he could think of but was denied a breakthrough by the combination of a slow pitch and the skill and unremitting concentration of the two Australians. Captain Ricky Ponting became the fourth batsman to pass 11,000 test runs on his way to 44 not out and Simon Katich ground out 53 in 2-1/2 hours at the crease. The two most vivid passages of play came immediately before and after the lunch interval. Hughes, making his Ashes debut, slashed four boundaries to reach 28 from 30 balls before the break. England captain Andrew Strauss responded by calling up Andrew Flintoff from the River end after lunch and his quickest bowler delivered six overs of high pace and relentless hostility. Bowling from around the wicket at the two left-handers, Flintoff bowled four bouncers at Hughes in his first over. He regularly exceeded 145 kms an hour and dropped Katich on 10 when he failed to hold on to a difficult return catch low to his right hand.Hughes had added only eight more runs in 24 balls when Flintoff was at last rewarded with wicketkeeper Matt Prior taking a smart catch tumbling to his right from an inside edge. Swann bowled five maidens in a row from the Cathedral End with his flighted off-spin and Strauss was able to maintain attacking fields throughout the session without making any further breakthroughs. After resuming at 336 for seven, England added 99 in 16.5 overs. Swann showed plenty of enterprise to reach 47 from 40 balls, adding 68 from 53 balls for the ninth wicket with James Anderson (26). SCOREBOARD ENGLAND, first innings (336-7 overnight) A. Strauss c Clarke b Johnson 30 A. Cook c Hussey b Hilfenhaus 10 R. Bopara c Hughes b Johnson 35 K. Pietersen c Katich b Hauritz 69 P. Collingwood c Haddin b Hilfenhaus 64 J. Anderson c Hussey b Hauritz 26 S. Broad b Johnson 19 G. Swann not out 47 M. Panesar c Ponting b Hauritz 4 EXTRAS: (b-13, lb-11, nb-12, w-2) 38 TOTAL: (all out wickets; 106.5 overs) 435 Fall of wickets: 1-21 2-67 3-90 4-228 5-241 6-327 7-329 8-355 9-423 10-435 BOWLING: Johnson 22-2-87-3 Hilfenhaus 27-5-77-2 (4nb, 1w) Siddle 27-3-121-2 (5nb, 1w) Hauritz 23.5-1-95-3 (3nb) Clarke 5-0-20-0 Katich 2-0-11-0 AUSTRALIA, first innings: P. Hughes c Prior b Flintoff 36 S. Katich not out 104 R. Ponting not out 100 EXTRAS: (lb-6, w-1, nb-2) 9 TOTAL: (one wicket; 71 overs) 249 Fall of wicket: 1-60 To bat: M.Hussey, M.Clarke, M.North, B.Haddin, M.Johnson, N.Hauritz, B.Hilfenhaus, P.Siddle. BOWLING: Anderson 13-1-57-0 (1w) Broad 12-1-58-0 Swann 20-7-49-0 Flintoff 15-3-48-1 (2nb) Panesar 11-2-31-0

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