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From : The Hindu India’s bowlers fought back with two quick wickets to restrict Australia to 174-3 at tea on day one of the third test in Melbourne on Friday.
Opening batsman Chris Rogers and Shane Watson raised their half-centuries soon after lunch but were both out within minutes of each other early in the middle session at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Captain Steven Smith, on 23, and Shaun Marsh (32 not out) combined to steady the innings with a partnership of 59 runs to the break on a mild, sunny day.
Rogers and Watson were poised to post big scores on a batsman-friendly wicket but one ball after a mix-up over a single, Rogers was dismissed by paceman Mohammed Shami for 57, nicking an edge to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Watson was the architect of his own downfall, however, trapped lbw by Ravi Ashwin when trying to sweep the spinner a few balls later.
Under 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.
Having lost two wickets without scoring, Australia were suddenly shaky at 115-3 but Smith and middle order batsman Marsh watchfully batted out the session to leave their team in reasonable shape.
Rogers raised his third half-century from three innings when he scampered for a quick single after pushing a shot to point. Watson had his 50 with a single to midwicket shortly after.
Earlier, Smith won the toss and sent his team in to bat on a drop-in wicket that, after initially proving a handful for the batsmen, flattened out helpfully.
Umesh Yadav 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.
The Australian batsmen were helped by some abysmal work in the field, grabbing a bunch of extra runs from handling errors across the Indian team.
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 in the festive Boxing Day crowd.
Australia are bidding to seal the four-match series 3-0 after winning the opening tests in Adelaide and Brisbane.
Batsman Joe Burns replaced injured all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in the Australian lineup, with fast bowler Ryan Harris replacing left-armer Mitchell Starc.
India made two changes, with the out-of-form Rohit Sharma dropped in favour of debutant batsman Lokesh Rahul and paceman Mohammed Shami coming in for Varun Aaron.
Scoreboard at lunch
Australia 1st innings
C. Rogers not out 46
D. Warner c Dhawan b U. Yadav 0
S. Watson not out 41
Extras (b-1 lb-4) 5
Total (for 1 wickets, 28 overs) 92
Fall of wickets: 1-0 D. Warner
To bat: S. Smith, S. Marsh, J. Burns, B. Haddin, M. Johnson, R. Harris, J. Hazlewood, N. Lyon
I. Sharma 8 – 2 – 23 – 0
U. Yadav 8 – 1 – 30 – 1
M. Shami 7 – 1 – 30 – 0
R. Ashwin 5 – 2 – 4 – 0