Hyderabad: Australian captain Michael Clarke stood tall amid the ruins with a classy 91 even as India took early control of the second cricket Test with a dominating display by the bowlers on the opening day here on Saturday.
Indian bowlers produced clinical performances in the opening and the final sessions on a track which had variable bounce before Australia surprisingly decided to declare their first innings at 237 for nine, wanting to have a go at Indian openers for three overs.
At stumps, India were five for no loss with openers Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay batting on four and zero respectively as they survived the brief period.
If Bhuvneshwar Kumar ran through the top-order during an incisive first spell, Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh wreaked havoc in the post-tea session when Australia lost five wickets for only 28 runs as they slumped to 237 for nine from a relatively comfortable 208 for four.
Jadeja had the best figures of three for 33 while Bhuvneshwar grabbed three for 53. Harbhajan chipped in with two for 52.
Clarke continued his rich vein of form as he started from where he had left off during his superb knock in the first match in Chennai. He missed out on what could have been his 24th Test hundred by just nine runs as he lost his patience with wickets falling at the other end.
He tried a wild sweep shot off left-arm spinner Jadeja to get bowled. The Australian captain faced 186 balls and hit nine fours and a six in the process.
Clarke and wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade (62) added 145 runs for the fifth wicket to bail Australia out of trouble after Bhuvneshwar`s opening spell reduced them to 63 for four in the opening hour and half.
Credit should also be given to Wade, who played a gutsy knock of 62 off 144 balls with eight boundaries. And more importantly, he gave his captain the support he needed.
Wade played with a fractured cheekbone but that did not dent his confidence as he comfortably negotiated the spinners during his three-hour stay at the wicket.
The duo had their anxious moments but overall they handled the spin troika of Ashwin, Harbhajan and Jadeja with ease. While Clarke used his feet to perfection, Wade decided to play with the spin on most occasions as they scored 104 runs in the second session.
The only time that Clarke could have been out was when, on 51, he was dropped by Cheteshwar Pujara at forward short leg off Ashwin`s bowling. That was the only blemish in his innings.
Just when it looked like Wade and Clarke were taking the visitors to a safe total, the former tried a cut shot off Harbhajan only to be caught by Bhuvneshwar at point.
Neither Moises Henriques (5) nor Glenn Maxwell (13) were able to stay for long alongside Clarke as Jadeja dismissed them in quick succession with classical left-armer`s away-going deliveries as it put paid to Australian hopes of a sizeable first innings score.
Once he was out, Clarke might have thought it logical to have a go at the out-of-form Indian openers rather than waste time with batsmen number 10 and 11 at the crease.
Earlier in the day, with suitable help from the wicket, the talented Bhuvneshwar rocked the Australian top-order with a triple strike in his first spell removing openers David Warner and Ed Cowan along with the dangerous Shane Watson.
After a luckless first Test in Chennai, where the Indian spinners got all the 20 Australian wickets, India`s new ball duo of Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar, especially the latter, gave a much better account of themselves, hitting the right areas consistently.
Australian top-order played their shots during the first session but were often troubled by the deliveries that were keeping low.
Young Bhuvneshwar, operating from the Visaka End, bowled a couple of leg-cutters (off-cutter for left-handers) to get rid of Warner and Cowan in the third and fifth over of the innings respectively.
In case of Warner (6), the delivery landed on the seam and cut back enough to take the inside edge of his bat knocking the off-stump back. This was Bhuvneshwar`s maiden Test scalp.
In his very next over, the 23-year-old Uttar Pradesh lad removed Cowan with a similar delivery. The ball landed on the seam and moved a shade as Cowan was trapped plumb in-front. To make matters worse, the ball kept really low and umpire Marais Erasmus adjudged the batsman leg before.
From 15 for two, Phillip Hughes (19) and Watson (23) tried to make amends with a 42-run partnership. Both looked assured with their footwork. Watson, in particular, hit some lovely drives off both Ishant and Bhuvneshwar`s bowling.
Just when it looked like Watson was getting set, he completely misjudged the length of a Bhuvneshwar delivery and was trapped leg before in the process.
The seamer bowled a short one and the ball kept low as it came back in. The batsman committed himself early to a pull shot but missed the delivery completely to be hit on the thigh pads. Umpire Erasmus had a long hard look before raising his dreaded finger.
Bhuvneshwar bowled an unchanged spell of nine overs and his figures read 9-1-36-3.
With wickets falling, Ashwin was introduced from the pavilion end and he kept things tight, bowling four consecutive maidens.
Hughes, under pressure to get a big knock, finally caved in when Ashwin bowled a typical off-break and the batsman went for a cut-shot. Dhoni fumbled on the first attempt but held on to the catch to reduce Australia to 63 for four.
Clarke and Wade then came together to start the repair job.