Second Test, Edgbaston (day one, stumps)
England 407 v Australia
Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff were in terrific form
England made a rapid 407 as the Ashes series served up some more thrilling cricket on day one of the second Test.
Marcus Trescothick, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff all hit belligerent half-centuries and the tail wagged to good effect near the end.
But Shane Warne (4-116) and Michael Kasprowicz (3-80) kept Australia in the hunt, taking the gloss off for England.
Kasprowicz was only playing because Glenn McGrath suffered a nasty ankle injury before the match started.
The veteran seamer, who had taken nine wickets in Australia's victory at Lord's, tore ligaments in his right ankle when he accidentally trod on a ball during the tourists' pre-match warm-up.
And he is now doubtful for the third Test at Old Trafford, which follows on directly from this contest at Edgbaston.
Perhaps buoyed by that news, openers Trescothick (90) and Andrew Strauss (48) gave England a terrific platform as the hosts hit 132 in the first session.
But that rapid scoring rate was surpassed between lunch and tea as Flintoff and Pietersen clicked in tandem for the first time this summer to put on 103, scoring at a stunning six runs an over.
Trescothick was given plenty of balls to drive early in his innings
Ponting's decision to bowl first was a peculiar one, particularly given that he did not have his most reliable bowler, McGrath, available.
But England's two left-handed openers were positive, whether in attack or defence, and it cost Australia when Strauss was dropped by Warne at first slip off Jason Gillespie when on four.
Warne suffered when he first came on to bowl, Trescothick hitting him for one straight six and Strauss producing a fine range of shots on both sides of the wicket.
Trescothick, after getting a life on 32 when edging to gully off a Kasprowicz no-ball, really took to Brett Lee in the final over before lunch.
The blond paceman disappeared over point for four and six and was driven for two further boundaries.
By then, Australia finally had one reason to celebrate. Warne, switching to round the wicket, got a ball to spin sharply from outside off-stump to bowl Strauss.
Trescothick, 10 runs short of a maiden Test ton against Australia, gave his wicket away soon after lunch when tamely edging Kasprowicz to the wicket-keeper.
Three balls later Ian Bell was also out for just six as Adam Gilchrist took his second catch in the same Kasprowicz over.
Kasprowicz, the late replacement for McGrath, bowled well for Australia
And England had tossed away their early advantage by the time Michael Vaughan, after reaching 24 without alarm, pulled Gillespie to fine leg to leave the score 187-4.
Pietersen and Flintoff refused to be bowed, however, and the crowd lapped it up.
Flintoff hit five sixes - three off Warne and two off Lee from the boldest of hook shots - before edging Gillespie to Gilchrist to depart on 62.
Pietersen played some remarkable shots too, hitting many balls from outside off-stump through the on-side.
After losing Geraint Jones and Ashley Giles, however, he tried one shot too many to be caught in the deep off Lee.
But there was still time for the tail-enders to hit a few boundaries of their own.
Then, just as Australia openers Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden walked out to the middle to begin their reply, with 20 minutes left on the clock, the rain came down.