An unbeaten 79-run stand between Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting left Australia in a strong position after their in-form pace attack skittled India for 191 on a dramatic opening day at the SCG.
Having ripped through India's batting line-up in just over two sessions, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle sharing all 10 wickets between them, the hosts also found the going tough on a greenish wicket as Zaheer Khan produced a destructive opening spell.
The left-armer removed David Warner (eight), Shaun Marsh (0) and Ed Cowan (16) to reduce Australia to a precarious 37 for three before Ponting (44 not out) and Clarke (47no) steered the hosts to 116 for three at stumps, trailing by 75 runs.
Warner was first to depart when he edged to VVS Laxman at second slip.
Laxman fumbled the regulation chance but Sachin Tendulkar snaffled the rebound to send the dangerous left-hander trudging back to the pavilion.
Marsh fell to an almost identical delivery from Khan at the start of the paceman's next over, but this time Laxman made no mistake to send the batsman packing for a golden duck.
Cowan was Khan's next victim when he was trapped in front of his stumps, leaving Australia in some trouble with less than 10 overs gone.
However, current captain Clarke joined former skipper Ponting at the crease and the experienced duo helped put their side in the ascendancy with a quick-scoring counter-attack.
Earlier, Pattinson (four for 43), Ben Hilfenhaus (three for 51) and Peter Siddle (three for 55) picked up where they left off in Melbourne with another world-class display of pace bowling.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni top scored for the tourists with an unbeaten 57 after winning the toss and electing to bat, while Tendulkar was the only other batsman to look comfortable against Australia's in-form pace trio.
The Little Master looked in ominous touch but will have to wait another day for his 100th international century after dragging a wide ball from Pattinson onto his stumps for 41 in the middle session.
Dhoni and Ravi Ashwin put on a valuable 54 runs for the seventh wicket before Hilfenhaus removed Ashwin (20) and Khan (nought) with the final two deliveries of the session to reduced India to 178 for eight at tea.
Dhoni came out swinging at the resumption, reaching his maiden half-century on Australian soil with a blistering cover drive off Siddle before running out of partners.
Sharma departed for a duck when he fended a short ball from Hilfenhaus straight to Cowan at short leg before Umesh Yadav became Siddle's 100th Test victim when he edged behind to Brad Haddin.
Needing a victory to square the series, the tourists made a dismal start as Gautam Gambhir (nought), Rahul Dravid (five), Virender Sehwag (30) and VVS Laxman (two) all fell before lunch.
Pattinson was the chief destroyer in the opening session claiming three wickets.Reuse content