Melbourne: Captain Steven Smith put himself on course for his third successive century but India bowled reasonably well to restrict Australia to 259 for five on the opening day of the third cricket Test to leave the match on an even keel here Friday.
Electing to bat, Smith again proved to be the main tormentor for the visitors as he anchored the innings to remain undefeated on 72 at stumps on an absorbing first day of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
The Australians lost David Warner (0) early but staged a recovery through Chris Rogers (57) and Shane Watson (52) with a 115-run partnership for the second wicket. The hosts then lost three quick wickets to allow the Indians to claw back into the game.
See scoreboard: Australia vs India: Scoreboard Third Test at Lunch, Day 1
From a shaky 184 for four, the home team reached 259 for five, mainly through the watchful effort of their captain and Brad Haddin, who remained not out on 23.
Strike bowler Ishant Sharma was impressive in his spells but ended the day without any wicket.
Australia were put on the backfoot as soon as the match began as their danger-man Warner got dismissed for a duck off Yadav in the second over itself.
The visitors, however, failed to capitalise on the initial gains as Shikhar Dhawan, who took a low catch at the slips to dismiss Warner, put down an easy one when Watson was on 37 four overs before lunch. Australia went into the lunch on a comfortable 92 for one.