India 297-6 v Australia: Lee leads fightback as India's advance is checked

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The Independent Online

A late flurry of wickets stalled India's progress against Australia on the first day of the third Test in Perth after Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had both made half-centuries to put the tourists in a strong position.

On an absorbing opening day that seemed to lack the ill will of the previous Test in Sydney, Dravid made the highest score with 93 while Tendulkar hit 71.before Australia captured four wickets in the last session to leave the match evenly poised going into the second day.

"We'd have taken four down for 300, that would have made us really happy, but we have to look at the positives," Dravid said after the close of play. "We've still got some batting left so, hopefully, the lower order can contribute a little and we get to 400, which is probably what we would have hoped for at the start of the game."

Ricky Ponting's team, who were on their best behaviour after being condemned for their on-field conduct in the last Test in Sydney, removed the Indian openers in the morning session but needed three hours to break the Tendulkar-Dravid partnership. The Australia fast bowler Brett Lee, who took three wickets, said the final session had put the hosts "in a pretty good spot now".

Earlier, Dravid and Tendulkar had added 139 runs for the third wicket and their partnership was ended only when Tendulkar was the victim of a dubious umpiring decision by the Pakistan official Asad Rauf.

Dravid blew his chance of making a hundred when he tried to smack spinner Andrew Symonds out of the ground but mistimed the shot and skied a simple catch to Ponting at mid-off.

But Dravid was pleased with the spirit between the teams after the controversies of Sydney. "They [Australia] played it tough like they usually do," he said, before adding: "It was played in very good spirit. It was played tough and played hard like it should be."

Lee added: "Today was a lot of fun, there was a few jokes cracked out there, both teams were laughing."