Veteran batsman Sachin Tendulkar and young gun Virat Kohli took India closer to wiping out the deficit on Day Two of the first Test after Australia set an imposing total of 380. India reached 182 for three at the end of play and trail the visitors by 198 runs.
Tendulkar, 39, was unbeaten on 71 at stumps after coming in when India were wobbling at 12 for two. He shared a 72-run third-wicket stand with Cheteshwar Pujara (44) that revived India’s innings before the latter was bowled by James Pattinson.
The Australia pacer took all three of India’s wickets that have fallen so far. He sent the two Indian openers — Virender Sehwag (2) and Murali Vijay (10) — back to the pavilion within the first six overs of the innings.
Vijay, back into the playing XI after a long hiatus, was the first to go. A quick delivery from Pattinson went past his defence and rattled the woodwork to reduce India to 11 for one.
Immediately in his next over, Pattinson got Sehwag to inside-edge a ball that bounced high before flicking off a bail. Sehwag had no clue where the ball went as he aimlessly looked around, before seeing it take the bail. Australia on the front foot straight away.
In came Tendulkar among huge cheers from the Chennai crowd. He opened his account with two gentle cover drive punches that raced to the fence. As Pattinson strayed down the leg on the following delivery, he flicked the young pacer off his pads to the fine-leg fence.
Tendulkar and Pujara then prevented further damage as they sparked a counter-attack, scoring at just under four runs an over.
Pujara fell after tea against the run of play after he totally misjudged the line of Pattinson’s incoming cross-seamed delivery.
This brought young Virat Kohli to the crease, who had scored a century in his last Test match, against England at Nagpur.
Kohli (50 not out) supported Tendulkar to the end even as the duo brought up their 50-run stand. Tendulkar, meanwhile, went past two milestones of his own. The little master has now scored 7,000 Test runs in India and 3,500 runs against Australia across all venues.
The pair took India to within 200 runs of Australia’s total and India would be happy with the position they are in with three days to go.
Earlier, Australia were bowled out for 380 in the first session after skipper Michael Clarke top-scored with a vital 130 off 246 balls. The knock included 12 boundaries and a six, as Clarke went on with his sparkling form.
India’s bowlers toiled hard for a good hour-and-a-half before finally getting rid of Clarke to get their first wicket of the morning.
At the stroke of the 11th hour of the day, Clarke played his first aggressive shot of the morning as he tried to loft Ravindra Jadeja out of the park straight down the ground. But he could only find Bhuvneshwar Kumar at long off.
Siddle didn’t lose too much time in following his captain back into the comfort of the pavilion after nicking Harbhajan Singh to Virender Sehwag at first slip, who finally latched on to a catch after dropping a sitter on Day One.
The catch also gave Harbhajan a much coveted wicket in his 100th Test.
Mitchell Starc (3) became Jadeja’s second victim after the Saurashtra lad found timber. James Pattinson (15 not out) stuck around for a while along with Nathan Lyon, as the lunch break was delayed by half-an-hour to give India time to pick up the last wicket.
Ashwin then obliged to take his seventh of the innings as Lyon (3) flicked him off his legs only for Kohli to take a sharp catch at leg slip.
Brief Scores: Australia 380 (Michael Clarke 130, Moises Henriques 68, David Warner 59; Ravichandran Ashwin 7 for 103) lead India 182 for 3 (Sachin Tendulkar 71*, Virat Kohli 50*; James Pattinson 3 for 25) by 198 runs.