Melbourne - Young captain Steven Smith compiled a watchful half-century to guide
Australia to 259/5 at stumps and leave the third Test against
India delicately poised after an attritional opening day in Melbourne on
Smith won the toss and put his team in to bat but the
hosts were on the back foot for much of a mild, sunny day in front of a
festive Boxing Day crowd of 70 000.
Continuing a stellar run of
form, Smith was unbeaten on 72 at stumps, with Brad Haddin surviving a
couple of body blows from India's pacemen and clutching to a scratchy
Smith and middle order batsman Shaun Marsh resumed after tea
with Australia on 174-3, but Marsh was out quickly for 32 with a rash
front-foot swipe at paceman Mohammed Shami that gave an edge to India
wicketkeeper and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Test debutant Joe
Burns, replacing injured all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, managed 13 runs
before bottom-edging an Umesh Yadav delivery to Dhoni.
never really appeared under great threat, the out-of-form wicketkeeper
Haddin was under the gun constantly from India's pacemen but gritted
through the final overs to ensure the hosts lost no further ground.
batsmen may be disappointed with their return, however, with several
making starts and only Smith holding hope of cashing in.
batsman Chris Rogers and Shane Watson raised half-centuries soon after
lunch but were both out within minutes of each other early in the middle
One ball after a mix-up over a single, Rogers was dismissed by paceman Shami for 57, nicking an edge to Dhoni behind the stumps.
was the architect of his own downfall, however, trapped lbw by Ravi
Ashwin for 52 when trying to sweep the spinner a few balls later.
pressure after a string of low scores, the all-rounder failed to make
India pay after being dropped in the slips by Shikhar Dhawan on 37.
dismissed opening batsman David Warner for a duck in the second over
but India squandered their strong start with poor fielding as the hosts
pushed to 92/1 at lunch.
Dhawan caught Warner well in the slips
but made a hash of Watson's chance before lunch, diving across from
second slip and juggling the ball twice before it grounded, much to
the delight of most of the MCG crowd.
Australia are bidding to seal the four-match series 3-0 after winning the opening Tests in Adelaide and Brisbane.
made two changes, with the out-of-form Rohit Sharma dropped in favour
of debutant batsman Lokesh Rahul and Shami coming in for paceman Varun