Australia’s batsmen went some way to rebuilding their fragile confidence on the opening day of their tour match at Hove.

Steve Smith scored an unbeaten 98 as the tourist reached 354-5 at the close while there were also half centuries for Ed Cowan and Phillip Hughes.

It proved a long day for Sussex bowlers but they fought back well after Cowan and Hughes had put on 150 for the first wicket.

Monty Panesar did his chances of a call-up for the third Test no harm by taking 3-65 while Lewis Hatchett (2-38) dismissed both Cowan and Hughes in an impressive burst after lunch.

Hughes and Cowan had to survive testing opening spells from Hatchett and Chris Jordan before going on to pile on the runs in the morning.

Hughes was dropped on 22 by Chris Nash in the slips off Jordan while Hatchett beat the outside edge of both Hughes and Cowan on numerous occasions.

The opening pair made the most of their good fortune as they both reached their half centuries to take Australia to 132-0 at lunch.

Hughes was more aggressive with his 50 coming off 62 balls while Cowan was more watchful, taking 78 deliveries to reach his half century.

Sussex fought back well in the afternoon session with Hatchett getting rid of both Hughes and Cowan in a spell of 2-18 from eight overs.

Cowan – on 66 - clipped a ball off his pads to James Taylor at square leg who took a good tumbling catch before Hatchett got one to leave Hughes who edged behind to Callum Jackson having scored 84.

Usman Khawaja was dropped by Jackson down the leg-side off Chris Liddle when he had made 28 but added only 12 more before becoming Panesar’s first victim when he was caught by Jordan at slip.

Matthew Wade’s hopes of earning a call-up to the Test side for Old Trafford next week were not helped when he fell for a duck, cutting a wide ball from Panesar to Liddle at point.

Smith dug in to reach a patient 50 off 126 balls and found good support from James Faulkner in a partnership of 131.

Faulkner fell shortly before the close when he slogged across the line at Panesar and was bowled while Smith will be hoping to complete his century in the morning.