LONDON; England`s Moeen Ali starred with both bat and ball on the second day of the first Ashes Test against Australia at Sophia Gardens on Thursday.
Ali scored a quickfire 77 in England`s first innings 430 — the first time in three Ashes series they had passed 400.
The off-spinner then captured the key wickets of Steven Smith, the world`s number one ranked Test batsman, and Australia captain Michael Clarke — both out in the 30s.
Ashes-holders Australia, looking for a first series win in Britain in 14 years, were 264 for five at stumps.
That left them 166 runs behind and with much depending on their lower order if they were to prevent England establishing a significant first-innings lead.
All-rounder Shane Watson was 29 not out and night watchman Nathan Lyon unbeaten on six.
There was heartache for Australia opener Chris Rogers who set a new record for most successive Test fifties without a hundred when his seventh straight half-century ended on 95.
England dismissed Australia dangerman David Warner for 17 when the opener edged James Anderson and England captain Alastair Cook held a sharp catch at first slip.Smith drove Ali for three fours in four balls.
Ali though had the last laugh after England`s pacemen had struggled on a placid pitch at a sun-drenched Sophia Gardens.
An ungainly Smith, trying to avoid being stumped after Ali spotted his charge, got a leading edge and Cook, belying his reputation for cautious captaincy, held a catch having stationed himself in an unusual short mid-on position.
Rogers was 74 not out at tea, having joined West Indies greats Everton Weekes and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Zimbabwe`s Andy Flower and Sri Lanka`s Kumar Sangakkara in scoring seven Test fifties in a row.
All the other four members of the quintet had a century in their sequence of fifties and Rogers, with three Ashes hundreds behind him, came tantalisingly close.
England: 430 (S. Balance 61, J. Root 134, B. Strokes 52, M. Ali 77, A. Starc 5/114, Hazlewood 3/83, N. Lyon 2/69)
Australia: 264/5 at close (C. Rogers 95, S. Smith 33, M. Clarke 38, A. Voges 31, S. Watson 29 n.o. M. Ali 2/67)