An Australia fight back on the first day of the second Ashes test at Lord's today undermined a flying start by England and an unbeaten 161 by its captain Andrew Strauss.
England stumbled from an opening stand of 196 to 364 for six at the close as Strauss registered his 18th test hundred, exploiting good batting conditions and often wayward bowling. Opener Alastair Cook hit 95 before the gradual collapse.
Australia's bowling and fielding display was ragged for the first three hours as its leading bowler Mitchell Johnson posted figures of one for 77 from his first 11 overs. But once Cook fell, Australia, seeking to retain the Ashes, battled back.
Strauss was mostly untroubled though his drive back at off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who dropped a difficult catching chance, saw the bowler dislocate the middle finger of his right hand. Hauritz remained off the field for the remainder of the day.
Left-arm paceman Johnson began erratically, conceding four boundaries in six balls at one point as Strauss punished him. Two of the fours were square cut from short, wide deliveries and the others were clipped off his legs through midwicket.
One rare moment of danger for England came when Cook edged the more impressive Ben Hilfenhaus towards Ponting at second slip in the seventh over but the Australian could not get a hand on the ball.
When Johnson changed to the Nursery End the results were the same as Cook hammered two boundaries through cover. Johnson, with head bowed and shoulders drooping, was a man low on confidence. England was 126 for no loss at lunch.
Ponting kept faith with Johnson but he conceded two more boundaries in his seventh over. Conversely, Hilfenhaus allowed 16 from his first nine, with six maidens.
Before tea, though, Johnson sparked a much-needed breakthrough when he trapped Cook lbw on the back foot with a ball just short of a length. Cook, denied a 10th test century, faced 147 balls and plundered 18 fours.
Ravi Bopara made a cameo 18 from 19 balls until he was lbw to a Hilfenhaus ball angled into him.
England had only added 12 runs after tea when Kevin Pietersen (32) departed to a catch behind off Peter Siddle, who was rewarded for bowling a disciplined line just outside off stump.
Pietersen was almost dismissed in bizarre fashion before tea when he twice looked as though he was going to catch the ball after it ricocheted towards his stumps. He would have been out 'handled the ball' if he did catch it.
The wicket of Paul Collingwood (16) reduced England to 302 for four as his attempted lofted drive over mid-on to occasional spinner Michael Clarke was mis-hit to fielder Siddle.
Matt Prior (8) was bowled between bat and pad by an in-swinger from the rejuvenated Johnson and Hilfenhaus spoiled Andrew Flintoff's day as he edged to Ponting at second slip following a standing ovation on his final test appearance at Lord's.
A Strauss boundary through gully in the penultimate over of the day gave him 5,000 test runs in his 64th match.
England, seeking to regain the Ashes it lost in 2006-07, drew the first test which ended on Sunday. It has not beaten Australia in an Ashes test at Lord's for 75 years.