Australia were twice left to curse India's opposition to the umpire decision review system as the hosts reached 277 for six on day one of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
Ed Cowan, the debutant opener, and Mike Hussey were both given out in controversial circumstances and Australia were in some difficulty when the sixth wicket fell at 214, before Brad Haddin and Peter Siddle steadied the innings with an unbeaten 63-run partnership that took them to the close.
Cowan, in particular, was critical of the International Cricket Council's failure to enforce the use of DRS in Tests. The 29-year-old, who replaced Phil Hughes at the top of the order, crafted a patient 68 before being given out caught behind off Ravichandran Ashwin – though TV replays failed to detect an edge.
"You saw the replays, you saw my reaction, you join the dots, I guess," he said. "With the DRS … as someone who loves their cricket and has watched a lot of cricket, I can't understand why it can't be handed down by the ICC to be uniform at all games. And that's me speaking as an outsider, not as someone who has been in the bubble for a long time."
The Board of Control for Cricket in India vetoed the use of the technology for the series – in the absence of a binding ICC rule, agreement is required from both sides – leaving Cowan and Hussey with no recourse, the latter having also been given out caught behind, off his first delivery.
"Today, momentum went against us because of it," Cowan said. "Two of the top six … that's the game. Of course, I was disappointed for [Hussey]. It was a massive moment in the game. We thought we were half an hour away from really nailing them, driving them into the dust. We get through Zaheer Khan's spell unscathed and it's a totally different complexion on the day's play."
Zaheer dismissed Hussey a ball after bowling the Australia captain, Michael Clarke, for 31, before Ashwin made it three wickets for the addition of nine runs by removing Cowan. Hussey's dismissal by the umpire Marais Erasmus left the batsman furious and TV replays appeared to show the ball missing his glove and glancing his sleeve on the way through to the India captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Resuming on 170 for three after the tea interval, Clarke and Cowan had added a brisk 46 for the fourth wicket, before Zaheer, who had struggled for rhythm in his first Test since injury his curtailed participation in India's tour of England five months ago, found his line in devastating fashion. The 33-year-old beat Clarke with a rising delivery that faded away wide from off‑stump, then had him chop on to his wicket with the next ball that cut back in. After Hussey's dismissal, Haddin flicked a single off his pads to deny Zaheer a hat-trick and briefly quell the Indian fans' raucous cheers.
Amid the drama, Haddin (21) and Siddle (34) rode their luck to stumps and the Australia wicketkeeper looked particularly fortunate when albw appeal was turned down despite it appearing plum in front on the replay.
Earlier in the day Cowan, whose 68 was the highest score by an Australian opener on Test debut since 1983, had displayed impressive composure as he posted his half-century and built a 113-run stand with the former captain Ricky Ponting after lunch. The pair pushed Australia to 159 before tea to regain the initiative after the hosts had wobbled to lunch on 68 for two, having elected to bat.
Desperate to score his first century in nearly two years, Ponting was out for 62, poking at an Umesh Yadav delivery that bounced savagely and glanced the bat to give VVS Laxman a simple catch in the slips. Ponting's wicket was Yadav's third and the rangy 24-year-old had the day's best bowling figures of three for 96 in just his third Test, though Ishant Sharma was unlucky to miss out on a wicket after a tight afternoon spell.
Yadav earlier had Shaun Marsh out for a duck when the No3 spooned a simple catch to Virat Kohli at gully, after ending the opener David Warner's innings for a quickfire 37 when he miscued a hook and was caught behind by Dhoni.
Despite India's attack having several appeals turned down, Yadav refused to be drawn on the review system debate. "If it's a bad decision or a good decision, it's part of the game," he said.
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