Australia were on top after a remarkable start in the second Test against India yesterday, recovering from a shaky opening to their innings on a day that saw 13 wickets tumble.
India were skittled for 191 off 59.3 overs and the hosts lost three early wickets, before recovering to 116 for three at the close, to trail by just 75.
At stumps, skipper Michael Clarke (47) and former captain Ricky Ponting (44) had restored Australia’s innings with an unbroken 79-run stand.
Young Australia paceman James Pattinson ripped the heart out of the tourists’ decorated batting lineup with four wickets after India won the toss in the 100th Test played at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni top-scored with an unbeaten 57 as the tourists fell apart again after being routed for 169 in last week’s first Test in Melbourne, which they lost by 122 runs inside four days.
Amid the carnage, Sachin Tendulkar, Test cricket’s greatest run-scorer, again failed in his pursuit of his 100th international century as he was bowled off an inside-edge for 41.
Pattinson, 21, playing in only his fourth Test, was the chief destroyer with four for 43 off 14 overs, while wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and short-leg fielder Ed Cowan each took three catches.
However, Australia’s innings lurched quickly into trouble with the loss of three wickets as Zaheer Khan fought back after his side’s dismal showing with the bat.
David Warner was out for 8 to Zaheer’s sixth ball, snapped up by Tendulkar in the slips.
Shaun Marsh followed for a golden duck on the first delivery of Zaheer’s next over and Cowan fell leg before wicket for 16 to the left-armer.
Clarke and Ponting were finding the going easy in the final hour, showing ominous signs of building a big first-innings lead on the second day.
“To bowl them out for 191 is a great effort by the bowling team,” Pattinson said. “Every time we go out, we want to try and get them out for as low a score as possible. The total just shows how well we did bowl. We’re in a great spot at the moment, the bowling attack, and hopefully tomorrow the batsmen can dig in and get a bit of a lead on them.”
Pattinson triggered the tourists’ slide when had Gautam Gambhir out off the third ball of the match, nudging an outswinger to Clarke at first slip for a duck to continue his poor series.
Rahul Dravid fell to a bat-pad catch to Cowan in Peter Siddle’s second over for 5 off 33 balls.
Danger man Virender Sehwag fell to another splendid Pattinson delivery, nicking to Haddin for 30.
Pattinson tempted V.V.S. Laxman to edge a drive to Marsh at third slip for a disappointing 2 after scores of 2 and 1 in Melbourne.
It was a rare batting failure for Laxman at the SCG, which statistically is his most productive scoring venue outside of India — his five previous Test knocks in Sydney have produced three centuries and an average of 96.20.
Virat Kohli showed some promise, but he too fell to a catch behind, off Siddle for 23. Ravi Ashwin (20) and Zaheer (0) fell in consecutive balls in Hilfenhaus’ last over before tea and they were followed by Ishant Sharma (0) and Umesh Yadav (0) to mop up India’s innings.
“I think you have to give Australian bowlers some credit. They bowled some really good lines today and put our batters under pressure,” India coach Duncan Fletcher said. “I think it’s crucial that tomorrow we get back to those lines and lengths that we’ve spoken about before, and put the Australian batters under the same pressure.”