Brisbane: Despite having a dreadful post-lunch session, Mike Hussey and stumper Brad Haddin led a strong Australian fightback and took the home team to 220/5 before rain ended the second day’s play 45 minutes before the scheduled close.
Hussey completed his 50 in style with Haddin playing a perfect foil. Hussey silenced his critics with a scintillating counter-attacking knock which consisted of 13 fours and a six. But, suddenly the heavens opened up and played spoilsport when things were looking bright for the hosts. When rain interrupted the play during the post-tea session, Australia were 220/5, still 40 runs adrift of England’s first innings total of 260.
Hussey was playing on 81 while Haddin remained unbeaten on 22 when the umpires decided to end the day’s play.
England bowlers, led by Steven Finn (2/61) and James Anderson (2/40), came up with some superb bowling performances during the post lunch session to stage a fantastic comeback in the first Ashes Test.
Resuming the session at 96/1, Australia lost wickets at regular interval throughout the two hours and ended the forgettable session at 168/5.
Finn took two while Anderson, who got the first wicket, and Graeme Swann (1/59) claimed a wicket each to snatch the initiative back from the Aussies.
Earlier, Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke’s painful stay at the crease came to an end when Steven Finn removed him with a bouncer for just 9. Clarke’s 50-ball painstaking innings consisted of some anxious moments without any boundary.
Immediately after that England`s spin hope Graeme Swann removed under-pressure Marcus North for 1 to reduce Australia to 143/5.
England captured two wickets in quick succession as Australia slumped from a comfortable 96-1 to 100-3.
Earlier, England`s fast bowlers failed to make the major breakthrough they had hoped for as Australia reached 96 for one at lunch on the second day of the first Ashes Test on Friday.
James Anderson got the only wicket to fall in front of another packed house on a sunny morning at the Gabba, having Shane Watson caught in the slips by Andrew Strauss for 36.
Katich could have gone for 22 but Alastair Cook`s attempted throw missed the stumps with the batsman stranded after he called for a single but Watson stood his ground. He got another life on 27 when umpire Billy Doctrove gave him out lbw to Anderson but Australia appealed and the TV review suggested that the ball would have gone over the wicket.
England then lost another TV appeal for lbw on Watson but the 29-year-old`s reprieve was short-lived as Anderson struck on the next ball.
England quick Steve Finn`s first Ashes over went for seven runs, including the shot of the morning -- a beautiful on drive down the ground for four by Watson.
Early morning rain gave England some hope that the ball would swing in the more humid conditions but the moisture was quickly burned off by the sun.
The series began with a bang on Thursday when Australian paceman Peter Siddle took six wickets, including only the third Ashes hat-trick in the last century.
Australia have not lost a Test match at the Gabba since 1988, their last Ashes defeat at the ground coming two years earlier.