Mike Hussey and Ricky Ponting hit half-centuries to rally Australia to 179-8 in its second innings and a 230-run lead over India on day three of their series-opening cricket Test in Melbourne.
Hussey was unbeaten on 79 at stumps with James Pattinson 3 not out on a day when 15 wickets fell for 247 runs. Hussey shared a 115-run partnership with Ponting, who made 60, to rescue the Australians after they slumped to 27-4.
India, seeking its first Test series victory in Australia since it began touring there in 1947, earlier collapsed from 214-3 to be all out for 282 at lunch in reply to the home team’s first innings score of 333.
India fought back immediately after the interval to remove David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh and Australia captain Michael Clarke. Ponting and Hussey then guided their team to the tea break without further loss, before Australia lost another four wickets late in the final session.
Ponting brought up his second half-century of the match before he was caught at gully off Zaheer Khan’s bowling. Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon then departed as Australia lost four wickets for 24 runs.
Hussey, who was out first ball on day one, was dropped when on 69 by Rahul Dravid off Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling before going on to post the highest score of the match. India fast bowler Umesh Yadav has 4-49 in the second innings, with Zaheer taking 2-32.
Recalled Australia paceman Ben Hilfenhaus earlier took 5-75 for his first five-wicket haul in Tests, as India lost seven wickets for 68 runs. Hilfenhaus bowled Dravid for 68 with the second ball of the day and then removed Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ishant Sharma.
Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, who top scored for India with 73, yesterday led the touring team to 214-2 with a 117-run stand, before Tendulkar was removed by Siddle in the final over. Siddle ended India’s innings today by having Ashwin caught behind to finish with 3-63.
India holds the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after winning the last two series against Australia in India.