PERTH, Australia, January 13 – India limped to 73-4 on the opening morning Friday of the third Test after Australia sent them in to bat on a lively Perth pitch, with Sachin Tendulkar again out cheaply.
Tendulkar’s quest for an elusive 100th international 100 was back on hold as the tourists, trailing 2-0 in the four-Test series, struggled to lunch in a match they must win to have any hope of retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
At the break, Virat Kohli was unbeaten on 10 and V.V.S. Laxman was on four.
Tendulkar again looked the best of the Indian batsmen on the unpredictable pitch, producing two elegant straight drives to the boundary in his first over.
However, he was deceived by a delivery from recalled paceman Ryan Harris that nipped back and was trapped leg before wicket for 15 as India slumped to 59 for three.
Tendulkar has been stranded on 99 Test and one-day international centuries since scoring 111 against South Africa in the World Cup in March.
India’s predicament worsened moments later when opener Gautam Gambhir was caught behind off swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus for 31.
It took just 20 balls for Australia to make their first breakthrough after captain Michael Clarke won the toss and elected to bowl on a grassy wicket.
Opener Virender Sehwag’s wretched series continued when he was caught in the slips by Ricky Ponting off Hilfenhaus for a duck.
Sehwag, the subject of rumours of a rift with captain M.S. Dhoni, lasted just four balls and the 33-year-old has only 108 runs in five innings in the series at 21.60.
Rahul Dravid again failed after surviving two confident lbw appeals before he was bowled off his pads by Peter Siddle for nine.
Both teams decided to go into the WACA Test with four-man pace attacks.
The Australians recalled left-armer Mitchell Starc at the expense of spinner Nathan Lyon, while Harris replaced the injured James Pattinson.
India left out spinner Ravi Ashwin for medium-pacer Vinay Kumar to make his Test debut.