Brisbane: A gritty 81 not out by Michael Hussey and his unbroken sixth-wicket partnership of 77 runs with Brad Haddin prevented an Australian collapse on the second day of the first Test on Friday.
The hosts lost four wickets in the afternoon session but recovered to 220/5 when rain forced early stumps on the day two.
Earlier in the day, England claimed four wickets in the afternoon session to put the first Ashes Test back on an even keel with some sharp bowling by James Anderson and Steven Finn reducing Australia to 168-5 at tea.
Having bowled out England for 260 and going to lunch at 96-1, Australia was in firm control before England hit back against an Australia batting lineup lacking form and confidence.
Mike Hussey was the only batsman to show any authority in the middle session and went to tea 46 not out, with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on 9.
England's fightback began on just the second ball after lunch when Anderson claimed the wicket of captain Ricky Ponting (10), who was caught behind off his gloves down the legside.
Either side of lunch, Anderson had figures of 2-18 from 11 overs after dismissing Shane Watson before the break.
Finn sent opener Simon Katich back to the dressing room with a superb low caught-and-bowled shortly after the opener reached his half century.
He later had Michael Clarke caught behind attempting to pull. Clarke made just nine runs off 50 balls, repeatedly playing and missing in a disappointing innings.
Marcus North fell for one, caught by Paul Collingwood off Graeme Swann, giving the dangerous off-spinner his first wicket of the match.
Finn's figures could have been even better had Hussey's edge off his first ball carried to Swann at second slip.
Hussey, who came into the match under pressure for his place, made up for that reprieve with some aggressive pull shots for boundaries and the Test's first six, hitting Swann over long on.
Only one wicket fell in the first session, when Watson nicked an Anderson off-cutter to Andrew Strauss in the slips. The ball before his dismissal Watson survived an lbw appeal which was turned down but then referred to the video umpire. The review showed the ball may have clipped the top of leg stump but was inconclusive enough for the initial not-out decision to stand.
Katich also survived a video referral in the first session after he was initially given out leg before wicket by Billy Doctrove when on 29 but replays showed the ball would have bounced over the stumps. The opener could also have been run out earlier in his innings had Cook connected with a direct throw from midwicket.