MELBOURNE // Sachin Tendulkar will have to wait a little longer for his 100th international century after he was dismissed in the last over of the day, having given India a strong start to their first innings on the second day of the first Test against Australia.
Tendulkar, who has been stuck on 99 centuries since March, was bowled by Peter Siddle for 73 to leave India on 214 for three at stumps in reply to Australia's first-innings 333.
The wicket ended a 117-run partnership between Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid that put India in command.
"That really set us in a strong position going into day three, but that one wicket at the end means we'll have rebuild all over again before the second new ball," Indian offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin said.
"We'll have to stick our heads out and bat really well."
The Melbourne Cricket Ground crowd of over 50,000 rose to their feet as Tendulkar walked from the ground.
"It's unfortunate he didn't get his 100, but his batting performance today really put us out of pressure," Ashwin said. "We're very happy."
The 38-year-old Tendulkar rarely looked troubled by the Australian bowling attack as he reached his 50 off 55 balls with six boundaries and a six, yet was finally beaten by a fine ball from Siddle which swung back between bat and pad.
Dravid scored a cautious, but nonetheless impressive, half century off 137 balls and will resume the third day on 68 with night watchman Ishant Sharma yet to score.
"Its important that tomorrow morning we shut that scoreboard down a bit," Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said. "If we can do that we'll create chances and give ourselves the best opportunity to get into that middle order."
Dravid received a reprieve while on 67 when he was bowled by Siddle (1-53), only for umpire Marias Erasmus rule him not out due to a no ball.
Haddin said he noticed a lift in Siddle's intensity after the decision.
"It actually felt like he did come through five (kph)) quicker after that. And he showed a bit of character to come back after what happened and get Tendulkar late in the day."
Dravid and Virender Sehwag had set up a strong platform for India's innings with a 75-run partnership after opener Gautam Gambhir (three) went early, playing an ill-judged shot outside off stump and being caught by Brad Haddin off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus.
Sehwag played aggressively against a tight Australian bowling attack. He was dropped by Mike Hussey in the gully while on 11, hit a lofted shot just out of the reach of David Warner at mid-on as he brought up his half century, and was given another life on 58 when he edged a James Pattinson ball that Haddin couldn't glove.
He finally went when he dragged a Pattinson ball onto his stumps.
Australia resumed on day two at 277 for six and the tailenders managed to eke out another 55 runs despite overnight batsmen Haddin and Siddle falling early.
Haddin (27) added just six runs to his overnight score before edging a Zaheer Khan ball to Sehwag in the gully. His wicket ended a dangerous 72-run, seventh-wicket stand with Siddle that saw off the new ball late on Monday and steadied the Australian innings after a middle-order collapse.
Siddle went soon after, caught behind off the bowling of Khan for an important 41.
Hilfenhaus made 19 with three boundaries before lofting an Ashwin delivery to the waiting hands of Virat Kohli at long-on.
Nathan Lyon was bowled around the legs by fellow-spinner Ashwin for six to end Australia's innings.
Australia opener and top-scorer Ed Cowan was replaced by substitute fielder Dan Christian for most of the day while he received treatment for a sore back. He is expected to be fit Wednesday.
Despite overnight showers, the MCG was bathed in sunshine Tuesday, which combined with a strong breeze to offer a firmer, batting-friendly wicket.
"Probably we got the better conditions in this game," Ashwin said. "Yesterday the clouds never really opened up and the wicket was a bit two-paced and it was topping and seaming."