A breathless opening day to the first Ashes test at Trent Bridge saw Australia reach 75-4 at stumps on Wednesday, trailing England by 140 runs.
In an electrifying evening session, the hosts were dismissed for 215, with Peter Siddle claiming 5-50, only for England to roar back into the contest as James Anderson (2-25) and Steven Finn (2-37) ran through the tourists’ top order.
Steve Smith, Australia’s top-scorer with 38 not out, survived to the close with Phillip Hughes, who was unbeaten on 7.
Earlier, paceman Siddle tormented England’s top order before James Pattinson took 3-69 and Mitchell Starc 2-54 to mop up the tail.
Jonathan Trott was England’s top-scorer with 48, from 80 balls with nine fours, while Jonny Bairstow made 37 from 51 balls. Australia took England’s last four wickets for just two runs in the space of 14 balls.
Australia’s selectors sprang a surprise before the toss by giving a debut to 19-year-old Ashton Agar a left-arm finger spinner who has played only 10 first-class matches, but it was Siddle who stole the show.
England, which preferred Finn to Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions, won the toss and opted to bat on a slow track with a rapid outfield, a decision that looks to have backfired.
Pattinson made a jittery start, bowling the first ball of the series so high it was called for a wide, but he atoned in the ninth over.
With the ball swinging around in the overcast conditions, Alastair Cook (13) was living dangerously until Pattinson tempted him to drive away from his body and nick the ball to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Trott, however, belied his reputation for caution with an aggressive innings and stroked Agar’s first ball in test cricket a full toss through the covers for four.
Siddle was innocuous and expensive in his first four overs, but his first delivery from the Radcliffe Road End brilliantly yorked Joe Root for 30 to lift Australia’s spirits.
Kevin Pietersen edged Pattinson down the leg side in the 23rd over, but although Haddin’s diving attempt at a catch failed, the batsman perished in the second over after lunch when he edged Siddle to Clarke at second slip for 14.
The prize wicket of Trott came when he chased a wide delivery from Siddle in the 36th over and dragged the ball onto his stumps.
A livid Trott made a move to smash the stumps with his bat and stopped himself.
England made a partial recovery as Bairstow and Bell put on 54 before Bell was out for 25 when he edged Siddle to Shane Watson at third slip.
Siddle claimed his fifth wicket when Matt Prior tried to drive another wide delivery through point and was caught by Phillip Hughes.
Stuart Broad began the evening session with a counterattacking 24 from 30 balls before he holed out to Pattinson and was caught and bowled although only after umpire Aleem Dar checked Pattinson hadn’t bowled a no—ball as the bowler’s foot skidded over the crease as he released the ball.
With the first ball of the next over, the 58th, Bairstow’s off stump was sent cartwheeling by Mitchell Starc, who had Finn caught behind off his next ball, a decision the batsman unsuccessfully referred.
Anderson survived the hat-trick ball and a referral for lbw on the final ball of the over, but the innings was wrapped up when Graeme Swann wafted Pattinson to Hughes at cover.
Australia made a bright start with Shane Watson racing to 13, but in the fourth over he edged Finn to Root at third slip and the contest was turned on its head.
Finn was bowling only because Broad was off the field receiving treatment for a shoulder injury , but his next ball removed Ed Cowan for a golden duck, caught at second slip by Swann and the hat-trick ball missed Michael Clarke’s bat by millimeters.
Clarke survived only to the seventh over, when he was bowled by a superb delivery from Anderson without scoring.
Chris Rogers (16) was lbw to Anderson in the 15th over after an unsuccessful referral.
The tourists were teetering but Smith carried the fight to England, hitting Swann over his head for six, leaving the test fascinatingly poised at stumps.