Rookie batsman Usman Khawaja and first-time captain Michael Clarke were aiming to build on Australia's dogged start when tea was called early due to rain and bad light on day one of the fifth cricket test against England.
England took a wicket in each session Monday, with Chris Tremlett removing Phil Hughes (31) on the last ball before lunch and Tim Bresnan dismissing Shane Watson (45) _ also caught in the slips _ in the 44th over.
At the interval, Pakistan-born Khawaja was unbeaten on 26 and Clarke was not out four.
The English have already retained the Ashes after taking a 2-1 lead with an emphatic win in the fourth test last week, but are aiming to win their first test series in Australia since 1987.
Khawaja, reportedly the first Muslim to play test cricket for Australia, hit his first ball for two off Tremlett, then pulled the next delivery for a boundary as he started with a flourish after lunch. He raced to 15 from eight balls, but then only added one from the next 19 deliveries before another boundary _ his third.
The 24-year-old left-hander comes into the international arena as the former top-ranked Australia casts wider than ever for replacements to fill the void created by the retirements of international veterans over recent seasons. He is the first to debut as a No. 3 batsman since 1993, largely due to regular Ricky Ponting's long hold on the position.
Khawaja did edge some runs through the slips cordon and did play and miss at times, but generally played with flair and ability and had vocal support in the capacity crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Clarke, desperate to salvage a draw in the five-match series, opted to bat after winning the toss despite the gloomy, overcast conditions and green tinge to the pitch that were expected to favor the seamers early.
Standing in as captain after Ponting was sidelined with a broken finger, Clarke urged his Australian lineup to fight and the openers delivered in difficult conditions.
Watson played with discipline for three hours, leaving the loose deliveries, before edging a straightforward catch to England captain Andrew Strauss at first slip off Bresnan to make the total 105 for two. He faced 127 balls and hit five boundaries, all after lunch, in a 50-run second-wicket stand with Khawaja.
The second session was played in dull, artificial light and featured an eight-minute suspension due to the overcast conditions, with heavy rain threatening for the duration.
The Australian openers batted with determination and caution in a 55-run stand before Tremlett had Hughes caught at third slip by Paul Collingwood three balls before the scheduled end of the first session.
The England attack duly tied down the Australians for the entire session and although Tremlett troubled both openers, the bowlers weren't rewarded with any genuine chances in the first 29 overs.
But just when it looked like the perfect, gritty start Clarke had called for, Tremlett tempted Hughes with a short ball and the 22-year-old Australian feathered a head-height catch to Collingwood.