Ponting, Hussey stabilise Oz after Yadav early strikes

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Melbourne: Umesh Yadav`s triple strike brought India right back into the match before Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey held fort for Australia as the first cricket Test between the two sides hung in balance at tea on the third day here today.

Australia, leading by 51 runs in the first innings, lost their first four wickets for mere 27 runs in their second essay, three of them to Yadav, before the experienced pair of Ponting (33 not out) and Hussey (29) stretched the score to 81 for four at the break. Australia presently lead India by 132 runs overall.

Ponting and Hussey have so far put on 54 runs for the fifth wicket and halted Australia`s slide after their four top-order batsmen batted poorly to leave the hosts in a mess.

Yadav sent tremors through the Australian top-order by removing openers David Warner (5) and Ed Cowan (8) in his fourth over with the hosts scoreboard reading 13.

Warner aimed a cut at a Yadav delivery without much footwork and dragged the ball on to his stumps while Cowan shouldered arm to an incoming ball and was caught plumb in front of the wicket.

To make matters worse for Australia, Shaun Marsh (3) inside edged a Yadav delivery on to his stumps. If that was not enough, skipper Michael Clarke was done in by a beautiful incutter from Ishant Sharma, which hit the stumps after getting a slight inside edge.

New man in Hussey, on a king`s pair, drove the first ball he faced from Ishant to midwicket for three and from then on seized the initiative for his Australia along with Ponting. Hussey flicked and then hooked Yadav imperiously for fours and later gloriously straight drove Ishant and cut Zaheer Khan. His senior partner Ponting looked compact at the other end. A straight driven four of Ishant was the pick of the former Aussie skipper`s shots in the afternoon.

Earlier, India dished out poor batting display this morning to be bowled out for 282 as Australia made a remarkable comeback to gain a vital 51-run first innings lead at lunch.

Comeback man Ben Hilfenhaus (5/75) turned out to be the star performer for Australia with his maiden five-wicket haul in Tests.

Hilfenhaus accounted for overnight batsmen Rahul Dravid (68), Virat Kohli (11), captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (6) and and Ishant (11) in the morning session to bring Australia back in the reckoning after India were comfortably placed at 214 for three at the close of play on Tuesday.

Peter Siddle also did his bit by inducing an edge from a tentative VVS Laxman (2) and getting the obdurate Ravichandran Ashwin (31) to finish with figures of three for 63. Resuming at 214 for three, India lost their final seven wickets for mere 68 runs this morning.

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