India takes control of Boxing Day Test
A DOCILE drop-in pitch and unbeaten 92-run stand between India's two best batsmen frustrated Australia on day one of the third Test in Melbourne, where the tourists finished on 2-215.
Virat Kohli won the all-important toss on Boxing Day then strolled to the crease, amid some boos from the 73,516-strong crowd, at 2-123 after debutant Mayank Agarwal's dismissal on 76 ended the post-lunch session.
Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara took few risks and looked remarkably comfortable throughout Wednesday's final session at the MCG, enhancing India's hopes of taking a 2-1 series lead as they hunt a maiden Test series win in Australia.
The only exception was a late burst from Mitchell Starc, during which Tim Paine put down a low one-handed chance when Kohli was on 47.
Pujara will resume on 68, eyeing his second ton of the series.
Kohli, closing in on the outright record for most Test centuries in Australia by an Indian, finished on 47 not out.
The superstar's seventh Test ton in Australia is no fait accompli but Paine's team, having already delivered seven overs with the second new ball, could need something special to dismiss Kohli.
The world's best batsman was on 32 when Paine unsuccessfully reviewed Nathan Lyon's lbw shout, with replays hinting at how desperate the hosts were to conjure a breakthrough.
Pujara had a rare nervous moment facing Mitch Marsh on 33 when an edge ballooned off the pad and fell short of a diving Usman Khawja at gully, but was otherwise in his element as the visitors attempted to grind Australia's star-studded attack into submission.
Paine insisted he was happy to bowl after losing the toss but the much-maligned pitch offered predictably little assistance.
Paine threw the ball to Lyon after just seven overs.
Recalled all-rounder Marsh, who was booed by some fans presumably frustrated by Victorian Peter Handscomb's omission, has already delivered 15 overs.
Marsh, Lyon, Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins all kept things tight, going at less than three runs an over.
Cummins was the pick of Australia's bowlers.
The express paceman struck the helmet of Hanuma Vihari and then dismissed the batsman, who had been promoted to open in a new-look order, with a delivery that clipped the glove off an awkward length and sailed straight to Aaron Finch at second slip.
Cummins also removed Agarwal, caught behind down the leg side.