Pattinson rocks the hosts early on by dismissing openers Vijay and Sehwag cheaply

James Pattinson was eased between cover and point with the precision of a sharp shooter. A back-footed punch off Peter Siddle scorched the turf. And Mitchell Starc was whipped with nonchalance.

The astonishing Sachin Tendulkar took on the fast and furious men and rolled back the years to keep India in the hunt at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday. The crowd swelled as the maestro’s passion tangoed with his jaw-dropping ability. The little big man was middling the ball on a surface of dual bounce.

Tendulkar’s defiant unbeaten 71 and his crucial partnerships with Cheteshwar Pujara (44) and a strokeful Virat Kohli (50 batting) saw India finish day two on a fighting 182 for three in the first Airtel Test here on Saturday.

Earlier, off-spinner R. Ashwin, who made the batsmen play him off the front foot, claimed an outstanding seven for 103 as Australia was dismissed for 380.

For the visitor, skipper Michael Clarke made a captivating 130; he fell attempting to strike left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja against the turn.

Then, Pattinson, working up genuine speed and employed in short bursts by Clarke, rocked India at the start. M. Vijay played on to a 150 kmph fuller length delivery that swung in and Virender Sehwag, wearing glasses, had an off-cutter hit willow, bounce off the ground and fall on the stumps.

Deliberate ploy

Tendulkar, in a deliberate ploy, batted with a slightly open stance. While such a strategy could come in the way of a batsman driving fluently on the off-side, it also gave him a better view of deliveries on or around the off-stump.

Incoming deliveries from pacemen have troubled him this season, however, Tendulkar’s feet and willow moved in harmony to shut out any gap between the two essential elements of batsmanship.

His reflexes have been hotly debated in recent times, but, Tendulkar, approaching 40, was hardly bothered by express deliveries from the Australian fast bowlers. Indeed, he was picking the length quicker than batsmen more than a decade younger.

And balance, that critical aspect of batting, was on view as Tendulkar bisected the gaps. His wrists came into play at the last moment as the ball was directed between the fielders.

The innings was marked by fluency and grace.

Perhaps, Tendulkar was fortunate on 37 when he padded up to off-spinner Nathan Lyon and received the benefit of doubt to a vociferous leg-before shout. He carried on without being distracted.

The ball reversed for the Aussie pacemen but Tendulkar displayed a straight bat. At Chepauk, his favourite hunting ground, the gifted Indian assumed centre-stage.

Tendulkar and Pujara raised 93 for the third wicket in 23.2 overs. The technically pleasing Pujara displayed a sound defence as left-armer Starc tested him from round the wicket. Starc donned the role of a stock bowler but has serious wicket-taking skills.

Pujara impressed with his cuts, and one such stroke off Siddle sped to the fence. The right-hander looked good for more when he was done in by a quick Pattinson delivery that seamed in from a back-of-a-length.

Tendulkar, then, cleverly dropped anchor as Kohli waded into the Australian bowling. The duo has so far put on 77 runs in 23.2 overs.

Cutting, driving and punching through cover and point, Kohli was severe on the Aussie spinners and five of his seven boundaries came against the unimpressive Lyon and Clarke’s left-arm spin. The enterprising Kohli also gloriously on-drove Siddle to the fence.

Earlier, India made heavy weather of cleaning up the Australian tail even after Clarke departed. The Aussie strategy on day two was to bat as long as possible and allow the pitch to deteriorate. There are already a few marks on the track.

Scoreboard:

Australia — 1st innings: E. Cowan st Dhoni b Ashwin 29 (45b, 4x4, 1x6), D. Warner lbw b Ashwin 59 (93b, 6x4), P. Hughes b Ashwin 6 (15b), S. Watson lbw b Ashwin 28 (60b, 3x4), M. Clarke c Bhuvneswar b Jadeja 130 (246b, 12x4, 1x6), M. Wade lbw b Ashwin 12 (35b, 1x4), M. Henriques lbw b Ashwin 68 (132b, 5x4), M. Starc b Jadeja 3 (3b); P. Siddle c Sehwag b Harbhajan 19 (94b, 2x4); J. Pattinson (not out) 15 (47b, 1x4); N. Lyon c Kohli b Ashwin 3 (28b), Extras (b-1, lb-7) 8; Total (in 133 overs) 380.

Fall of wkts: 1-64 (Cowan), 2-72 (Hughes), 3-126 (Watson), 4-131 (Warner), 5-153 (Wade), 6-304 (Henriques), 7-307 (Starc), 8-361 (Clarke), 9-364 (Siddle).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 13-1-52-0, Ishant 17-3-59-0, Harbhajan 25-2-87-1, Ashwin 42-12-103-7, Jadeja 36-10-71-2.

India — 1st Innings: M. Vijay b Pattinson 10 (15b, 2x4), V. Sehwag b Pattinson 2 (11b), C. Pujara b Pattinson 44 (74b, 6x4), S. Tendulkar (batting) 71 (128b, 6x4),V. Kohli (batting) 50 (84b, 7x4), Extras (lb-3, w-2) 5; Total (for three wkts in 52 overs) 182.

Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Vijay), 2-12 (Sehwag), 3-105 (Pujara). Australia bowling: Starc 14-2-37-0, Pattinson 6-1-25-3, Siddle 8-1-31-0, Lyon 14-0-55-0, Henriques 8-2-17-0, Clarke 2-0-14-0.