Second Ashes Test, Lord's (day one): England 364-6 v Australia
Andrew Strauss cuts on his way to his third Test century against Australia
By Oliver Brett
BBC Sport at Lord's
Andrew Strauss hit his 18th Test century and reached 5,000 Test runs but England slid from 196-0 to 364-6 on a gripping opening day of the second Ashes Test at Lord's.
England skipper Strauss hit 22 fours in a brilliant unbeaten 161 after opting to bat first on a pitch that lacked pace but provided just enough seam movement to give the fast bowlers some hope.
Strauss and Alastair Cook (95) put on 196 - England's highest opening stand against Australia since 1991 - in a rapid partnership spanning 48 overs, and Australia seemed to be running out of ideas before the often wayward Mitchell Johnson removed Cook.
With nearly half the overs in the day remaining, the opportunity for England to reach a dominant position was there, but instead the hosts allowed Australia back into the match.
Ravi Bopara fell for just 18 and the scoring rate slowed after Kevin Pietersen departed soon after tea after a quickfire 32.
Paul Collingwood, the hero of the first Test draw in Cardiff, tossed his wicket away on 16 with a poor shot, before Matt Prior and Andrew Flintoff lasted just 10 balls each, both swiftly ousted with reverse swing from the old ball.
If the day ended with Australia's bowlers in good form, it certainly did not start that way.
Ricky Ponting frequently wore the look of a perplexed, frustrated captain - particularly during a first session in which his four bowlers, none of whom had prior knowledge of the Lord's wicket, looked jaded and bowled poorly.
Ponting's problems only increased when one of them, Nathan Hauritz, dislocated the third finger of his bowling hand attempting to stop a Strauss drive soon after lunch, forcing occasional bowler Marcus North into a long, fruitless and not particularly economical spell.
But by far the biggest disappointment was Johnson. Australia's attack leader conceded 11 boundaries before lunch alone, though he ended the day much better and finished with 2-107.
Alastair Cook was particularly imperious on anything short
Strauss and Cook produced the 20th-best stand by any England pair in Ashes history, and they only narrowly missed making the best start by two openers in a home Test against Australia, falling 23 runs behind the mark set by Charlie Barnett and Len Hutton at Trent Bridge in 1938.
Much of the cloud cover visible at the start of play quickly dispersed and Cook hit his first ball - a weak Johnson loosener - for four.
Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus tested the batsmen all too rarely, and Strauss latched onto a short, wide delivery from Johnson, cutting the left-arm quick in front of point for his first boundary.
Peter Siddle was driven pleasantly through the off-side for four by Strauss, a shot which saw the 50-run stand raised well within the first hour.
Johnson was put to plenty of early work by Ponting, but was frequently bowling far too short given the placid conditions, and Cook in particular was able to press on with cuts and pulls.
Cook glided Siddle to third man to reach his half-century and the 11th bye of the morning brought up the century partnership. There was no let-up in the scoring as lunch was reached on 126-0.
The scoring was kicked off in the afternoon when Cook muscled Hauritz through midwicket for two more boundaries to go to 75. Finally an opening of sorts arrived for Australia, but the hard-working Hilfenhaus had Strauss dropped by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off a no-ball, and two balls later the England captain scampered a couple of runs to bring up his half-century.
Australia's position became even grimmer when Hauritz had to leave the field and the fielding became ragged as both Cook and Strauss moved closer to their centuries.
The Aussies were waiting for something to happen and it came when Johnson finally bowled a straight ball at Cook which the left-hander missed, giving umpire Billy Doctrove an easy lbw decision.
Then, bowling from the same Pavilion End, Hilfenhaus shaped one down the hill and into Bopara's pads to remove the other Essex man six overs later.
Pietersen, whose batting was heavily criticised during the first Test, came out playing with plenty of positive intent, and though there were some fine early shots, there were also some less convincing moments. He very nearly top-edged a catch off Hilfenhaus just before tea.
Strauss cut the penultimate ball before the interval for the three runs he needed to bring up an enthusiastically celebrated century and at tea England were 255-2, with Pietersen on 22.
England lost their number four early in the final session, however, when Siddle bowled a lovely ball that left the right-hander up the hill, and Haddin caught the thin edge.
Pietersen deserved some sympathy, he was only trying to play defensively after all, but Collingwood's shot off Michael Clarke was a shocker. Dangerously attempting to biff the ball against the spin over short midwicket with his favoured chip shot, he hit the ball far too straight and gave mid-on a simple catch.
Strauss looked angry, though he responded in the best way possible - by combining solid defence with some attractive boundaries. The trouble was that there seemed no let-up in the wickets column, Johnson finding big reverse-swing to bowl Prior through the gate for just eight.
Flintoff, in his penultimate Test innings at Lord's, edged Hilfenhaus (2-77) to second slip to be the fourth man dismissed in the final session, England losing six wickets in adding 137.
The new ball was taken after 86 overs and it was a quiet crowd who watched the final exchanges of an absorbing day which ended with Stuart Broad on seven.
In a splash of evening sunshine Strauss drove into the covers to pass 150. He had survived two technical chances - the Hauritz caught-and-bowled on 52 and a slash which went over Michael Hussey's head at gully on 105.
Australia will be keen to see the back of him as soon as possible on Friday.