Hilfenhaus fiver puts Australia on top

Melbourne: 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 on the third day of the first cricket Test here. 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 Sharma (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.

The tenor of the day was set in the very first over when Dravid was bowled by Hilfenhaus in the second ball of the day. Dravid, who faced 187 balls during his 249-minute vigil at the crease, failed to add any runs to his overnight score.

After Dravid`s dismissal, Laxman walked in but he was kept quiet by Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson. The stylish Hyderabadi got off the mark only in the 22nd ball of his innings with a brace down the ground. But that was all Laxman could manage as he played tentatively from his crease and edged a Siddle delivery to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who took a low diving catch to his right.

In order to rush up the remaining overs before the second new ball was due after the 80th over, Australia brought on off-spinner Nathan Lyon into the attack and that was the only time when Indian batsmen looked at ease this morning and could work the ball around for some runs.

Kohli once punched the off-spinner through the covers for four but the runs dried up soon after Michael Clarke pressed into service his pace battery from both the ends.

It was Hilfenhaus who reaped rewards after being brought back into the attack when he bowled his customary off-stump line and a tentative Kohli edged one to Haddin.

Australia took second new ball after 81 overs and Hilfenhaus tasted immediate success when he induced Dhoni to drive, only to give a simple catch to Mike Hussey at gully.

Ishant Sharma, all this while, held his ground at the other end and played a remarkable defensive innings. Sharma`s obduracy finally ended when he fell for a Hilfenhaus full length delivery and edged a straight-forward catch to Haddin. The tall right-hander batted for 106 minutes and faced 69 balls.

Zaheer Khan (4) too did not last long and was cleaned up by James Pattinson as he went for a wild heave.

Ashwin then raised important 23 runs for with last man Umesh Yadav to reduce the margin of lead for India. Ashwin hit a for four and then top-edged Pattinson over the keeper`s head for a six in consecutive balls as the on-field umpires extended the morning session since India were nine wickets down.

Siddle eventually finished the proceedings for Australia as Ashwin nicked a pitched-up away moving delivery to Haddin.