MIKE Hussey has led an Australian counter-attack after England dominated the second session in the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba.
The hosts are 5-220 – with Michael Hussey on 81 and Brad Haddin on 22 – to trail England by 40 runs when play was stopped for rain with a scheduled hour left.
Umpires currtailed any hopes of resumption by abandoning play shortly afterwards.
Under enormous pressure to hold his spot leading into this match, Hussey has responded with one of the most important – and personally timely – innings of his career.
The West Australian’s fine hand was an all-or-nothing mix of breathtaking strokeplay and stout defence.
His first 50 comprised nine fours – mostly from pull shots and a straight hit six off Graeme Swann.
His score at the final drinks break featured 58 runs in boundaries.
Hussey and Haddin’s 77-run stand has righted the ship after the hosts lost four wickets in a calamitous second session. Ricky Ponting (10) and Simon Katich (50) fell in the first half hour after lunch.
Michael Clarke (nine) was caught behind in the second hour and Marcus North (one) quickly followed.
Clarke top-edged a pull shot from Steven Finn (2-61) and North edged Graeme Swann (1-59) to slip.
Jimmy Anderson has 2-40 from 21 overs and Stuart Broad (0-41 from 20) has been equally frugal.
England’s bowlers will rightly lauded for their efforts in the session but skipper Andrew Strauss was the star of the two hours after lunch. Strauss artfully manoeuvred his bowlers and set clever fields.
When he switched Finn to the Stanley St End the big quick repaid his captain with the immediate wicket of Clarke.