AUSTRALIA is in a match-winning position after Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin batted England into submission at the Gabba today.
The home side leads by 202 meaning England must mount a stout rearguard action over the final two days to save the match.
Hussey (195, 26 fours and six) and Haddin (136, 16 fours and a six) batted well into the last session in their match-winning – and potentially series defining – stand of 307.
At stumps England was 0-19 (with Andrew Strauss on 11 and Alastair Cook six) after Australia was bowled out for 481.
Strauss looked to have a pair of ducks when he shouldered arms to the first ball of the innings from Ben Hilfenhaus.
Ricky Ponting called for the not out verdict to be reviewed, but the footage showed the ball passing over the stumps by a narrow margin.
Earlier young English speedster Steven Finn ran through the Australian tail to finish with his best Test haul, 6-125 from 33.4 overs, as Australia lost its last five wickets for 31 runs.
Mitchell Johnson’s 19-ball duck was especially unwelcome after his wicketless first innings
Hussey’s marathon stay ended when he holed out trying to belt Finn over the midwicket fence. But by then the lead was 198 and Australia’s position secure.
As his partnership with Haddin grew, a luckless England melted under the sun that broke through the heavy clouds that have shrouded the ground so far in this match.
When on 113 Haddin was badly missed by Jimmy Anderson when he skied a pull shot to midwicket.
He gave a half chance on 63 when he lofted Paul Collingwood to long-off where Alastair Cook made good ground only to spill a tough catch.
As the catches fell to the turf and the runs mounted the crowd sang Waltzing Matilda while English faces lengthened.
The sunny weather ensured this was the best day of the Test so far for batting – and the Australian pair cashed in to cut deeply into England’s psyche.
When Hussey glanced Finn to the fine leg rope soon after tea he passed his previous Test best of 182 and also brought up the 300 partnership.
Soon after Haddin fell to a smart catch by Paul Collingwood at slip off Graeme Swan, ending a hand of classic strokeplay and watertight defence, all underpinned by mental toughness.
The Australians survived a very tricky opening hour in which they struggled against the new ball. Haddin in particular repeatedly played and missed to the unlucky Stuart Broad.
"I think that first hour, hour and a half, was probably the best Test bowling I’ve ever faced," Haddin said after stumps.
Haddin brought up his ton half an hour after lunch when – on 94 he audaciously hit Swann down the ground for six.
An English misfield allowed Hussey to bring up his 150 just after drinks in the second session.
Hussey’s innings will surely be remembered as the best of his stellar career.
He brought up three figures halfway through the morning session with a signature cover driven boundary from Stuart Broad.
He and Haddin clasped in a lingering embrace as Australian and England fans rose together in a long ovation.
His 26 fours came in three main areas through cover, pulled through midwicket and glanced to very fine long leg.
His triumph is shared by the Australian selectors who stood by their man, even after 28 Tests without a first innings century.
More importantly, it rescued his country when it had lurched to 5-143 in a disastrous second session yesterday.
Mindful of the danger posed by the new ball, Hussey was watchful early today.
He was given out leg before to Anderson early in the session but the decision was overturned when replays showed the ball pitched outside leg stump.
When Anderson again rapped Hussey on the pads the Australian looked plumb but the Englishmen had used their video reviews.
Haddin shook off his scratchy start in the first session with some handsome straight drives, an exquisite late cut boundary and a lofted drive to the mid-off rope off Anderson.
The ‘keeper brought up his 50 with a cover driven boundary from Finn, after cutting him to the fence in the same over.
He brought up the 150 stand with a rollicking hook shot that perfectly intersected the fine leg and deep backward square fieldsmen.
His partner brought up the 200 stand with another trademark cover drive, with Anderson the victim this time.