Adelaide: Stuart Broad claimed two wickets as England took the honors on Thursday's opening day of the second Ashes Test, restricting Australia to 273 for 5 on a docile pitch made for scoring runs.
Skipper Michael Clarke, who won the toss and chose to bat, was unbeaten on 48 at stumps, having shared an important 83-run fifth-wicket stand with George Bailey (53) after Australia had lost three quick wickets just before tea, negating a strong start which saw the hosts coast to 155 for 1.
Australia's top-order all made starts but were out to poor shots, except Steve Smith who was bowled by recalled spinner Monty Panesar. England could have been in an even better position but dropped three catches in the last session including Michael Carberry's sitter at backward point off Brad Haddin just before stumps.
England will be satisfied with their effort after a 121-run stand between half-centurions Watson and Rogers threatened to build a big first-innings total.
Haddin, who also survived a DRS referral for lbw against Broad and another dropped chance in the next over, was not out on seven at stumps.
Clarke had no hesitation in choosing to bat for the second time in the series and, after losing David Warner (29) to a rash shot against Broad (2 for 63) early, Australia was dominating on a flat wicket that didn't offer much assistance to the bowlers.
Chris Rogers (72) and Shane Watson (51) put on 121 for the second wicket before Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann struck five balls apart.
Anderson took a low, return catch to dismiss Watson (51) and break the 121-run second-wicket stand, and Swann had Rogers (72) well caught by wicketkeeper Matt Prior in the next over as Australia slumped to 155 for 3.
"The wicket is harder to bat on than we originally thought," Rogers said. "It was OK early, but then towards the back end of Shane and my partnership, a bit of reverse swing was playing tricks. Hopefully the wicket will get tougher as it goes on."
Panesar, recalled for his first Ashes Test since 2009, compounded Australia's slide when he bowled Smith (6) on the last ball before tea.
But he grassed one of two chances early in the evening session that let Australia off the hook.
Panesar put down a caught-and-bowled chance he should have held when Bailey was on 10, and Australia was 190-4.
Bailey responded by hitting a six back over Panesar's head in the next over to take Australia's total past 200.
Clarke, who was averaging 103.6 in nine previous Tests at the Adelaide Oval, was on 19 when he chipped a Swann ball to midwicket but Joe Root was unable to take a difficult chance.
Clarke had a nervous moment on 23 when Swann deflected a drive from Bailey onto the stumps at the bowler's end and appealed for a run out, but the TV umpire ruled that the Australian captain had grounded his bat just in time.
Bailey, who averages 55 in 35 ODIs, was shaky early but posted his maiden Test half century in just his second Test with a pulled six off Broad.
He also hit Panesar for two straight sixes - one at each end - in racing to 52 from 79 balls but he was tempted to hook at a Broad short ball and Swann took a good catch at square leg to end the partnership.
While Australia kept an unchanged lineup after a big win in the series-opener, England was forced into three changes to accommodate the loss of Jonathan Trott, who left the tour with a stress-related illness.
Root will move up the batting order to fill his spot at No. 3, while New Zealand-born Ben Stokes earned his first cap and Panesar was recalled to work in a spin tandem with Swann on a pitch that will keep low for the duration.
Stokes had 0 for 26 and was the only English bowler not to pick up a wicket on the first day.
Despite failing to make the most of the conditions on Thursday, Australia was still in a better position than it was in the previous Ashes Test at the ground in 2010 when it won the toss and was all out for 245 on the opening day. England won that Test by an innings and went on to claim the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time in 24 years.