Joe Root moved to the brink of a seventh Test century as Australia endured a wicket-less session before tea on day one of the first Investec Ashes Test, at Cardiff.
Root, dropped behind second ball on nought, shared an unbroken stand of 147 for the fourth wicket with Gary Ballance as the home side - 43-3 an hour into the day - regained the initiative by reaching tea at 190-3.
The in-form 24-year-old - who averaged 82.37 between the 2013/14 and 2015 Ashes - was at his free-flowing best as he struck 93 not out off 1100 balls, featuring 12 fours.
Meanwhile Ballance, who averaged just nine in four innings against New Zealand earlier in the summer, dug in to reach his sixth Test fifty off 127 balls by square driving Mitchell Starc for four.
The Yorkshire pair picked up in the afternoon session where they left off before lunch, having stopped the rot after England slipped to 44-3 after choosing to bat under leaden skies.
Adam Lyth (six), Alastair Cook (20) and Ian Bell (one) all fell cheaply in the first hour following a 15-minute delay caused by a short shower.
Seamer Josh Hazlewood struck first, turning around fellow Ashes debutant Lyth, David Warner grabbing a low chance in the gully.
With the odd ball keeping low, Cook and Ballance played cautiously against the swinging all - the England skipper pouncing on the opportunity to pull Hazlewood for four and glance another boundary.
But it was spin that accounted for Cook as he attempted to cut Nathan Lyon only to edge through to Brad Haddin to make it 42-3.
One run later Ian Bell was on his way, trapped lbw by a full Mitchell Starc inswinger, extending his poor run of form to 56 runs in nine Test knocks.
England's plight might have been worse as Root snicked a Starc yorker outside off stump to Haddin before he had scored, but the wicketkeeper tried to snaffle the catch one-handed and put it down.
Root's reprieve sparked him into life, driving Starc down the ground for four to get off the mark before cutting hard for a second boundary in the over.
He continued in similarly untroubled fashion after lunch, unfurling some eye-catching drives through the off-side to reach his half-century off 56 deliveries.
A rare scare came on 130-3, when Steve Smith - leading the side while Michael Clarke was briefly off the field - opted to review a not out lbw decision off Lyon’s bowling, replays showing the ball pitched a fraction outside leg.
Root, who was twice dismissed within sight of a century by New Zealand on 98 and 84, moved into the nineties with a stinging square cut off Hazlewood for four.
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