Ashes 2017
Smith and Marsh held the day for Australia. Getty

The first Ashes Test between Australia and England remains on a knife-edge after the hosts battled back on day two at the Gabba.

Dawid Malan registered the third half century of the England innings and put on 83 for the fifth wicket with Moeen Ali [38], but the tourists lost their last six batsman for just 56 to be bowled out for 302.

Stuart Broad, Moeen Ali and Jake Ball all struck before tea to leave Australia 59 for 3 in reply, and when James Anderson trapped Peter Handscomb lbw for just 14 England looked destined for a first innings lead.

But captain Steven Smith [69] and Shaun Marsh [44 not out] rallied, combining stubborn defence with some potent attacking strokes to put on an unbeaten 89 for the fifth wicket to frustrate the away side. Smith went to a hard-fought half century, his 22nd in Tests, to ensure the home side earned a share of the spoils at the close on 165 for 4 but there remains plenty of work to do to restore parity.

England began on 196 for 4 after what was a slow opening day and made it past the first hour of the morning session without further losses. Ali and Malan held the baton as they drew a solid fifth-wicket stand to 83.

However, wickets would eventually tumble - six for 56 - with England stuttering to 302 all out, thanks to a breezy bowling performance by Australia.

Malan's dismissal sparked the start of a collapse, as he departed for 56. Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins ended with three wickets each as the England tail displayed weak resistance.

Australia endured a haphazard start to their innings, losing their top three in the first 20 overs. Peter Handscomb departed after resumption but captain Smith, unbeaten at 64, along with Marsh, batting at 44, held the innings together.

The early collapse was sparked by Broad, who got the early breakthrough when debutant Cameron Bancroft, edged to Jonny Bairstow for just five while Khawaja was leg-before by Ali for 11.

Warner and Smith tried to steady the ship before the former fell after a miss-timed pull off Jake Ball and was caught at mid-wicket. Handscomb fell in the first over after tea and it was down to Smith and Marsh to show resolve and compile an unbeaten stand spanning 37 overs, to end the day on a high.