Tendulkar's wait goes on but India's Wall stands firm
Sachin Tendulkar threatened to bring up a magical 100th international century but was dismissed late on day two after helping put India in command of the first Test against Australia.
Tendulkar was bowled by Peter Siddle for a dashing 73 from 98 deliveries, three balls before stumps at the MCG.
He had teamed up with Rahul Dravid, who scored a patient 68 not out to help the tourists reach 214 for three heading into the third day in response to Australia's first-innings score of 333.
The two greatest Test run-scorers of all-time put on 117 for the third wicket - their 20th century partnership.
They were looking at their ominous best before Siddle intervened and forced nightwatchman Ishant Sharma to make an appearance.
It did not take long for Tendulkar to get his eye in and he treated the 52,858-strong crowd to a batting masterclass with top-notch stroke play which delivered some perfectly-executed boundaries.
The 'Little Master' saw off eight balls in a nervous period before tea, following Virender Sehwag's dismissal for 67 in the penultimate over of the middle session.
He then set the tone for his innings with the first ball of the final session with an outrageous six off Siddle over the slip cordon and the thirdman boundary.
It was the first of three precise late cuts he guided over the slips in what was a display of supreme awareness, vision and timing.
Tendulkar had eight fours to go with his six, and scored his 64th Test fifty with a single off Nathan Lyon that produced one of the loudest cheers of the day.
At the other end, Dravid was at his resolute best and lived up to his nickname of 'The Wall', with his 68 runs coming from 185 balls.
Dravid had been a lot more circumspect than Tendulkar but there were some flashes of brilliance, none more impressive than when he hit a glorious glance for four off Siddle.
Tendulkar overtook Dravid, who notched his 63rd Test fifty, despite the latter getting a 28-over head start.
Dravid looked impregnable for the most part although he did experience some hairy moments courtesy of Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Siddle.
Most notably, six overs before stumps, Siddle did find a way through when he bowled Dravid, but after much jubilation the delivery was adjudged to be a no-ball after umpire Marais Erasmus referred it to the third umpire.
But Tendulkar's wicket would have served as a decent consolation for Siddle and Australia.