Sydney: Left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh and Harbhajan Singh ripped apart Aussie batting lineup to put India in a strong position at tea on the first day of the second Test on Wednesday.
RP Singh captured four wickets with his left-arm seamers and Harbhajan bagged two with his off-spinners to reduce Australia to 214/6 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Sachin Tendulkar chipped in with three sharp catches at first slip but it was the superb bowling of RP and Bhajji that threatened Australia's bid to equal their world record of 16 consecutive Test wins.
RP Singh dismissed openers Phil Jaques and Matthew Hayden in the first hour of play then snared the scalps of Mike Hussey and Adam Gilchrist after lunch as the Australian middle-order inexplicably crumbled on a flat pitch ideal for batting.
Harbhajan triggered the collapse when he trapped Australian captain Ricky Ponting leg before wicket for 55 then added the scalp of Michael Clarke for one when he failed to offer a shot to a ball that hit him flush on the pads.
Australia lost four wickets for 15 runs in five overs to slump to 134-6 before all-rounders Andrew Symonds (39 not out) and Brad Hogg (48 not out) steadied the innings with an unbroken partnership of 80 in just 74 minutes.
RP Singh picked up his first wicket in the third over of the day when Jaques slashed at a short ball and top-edged a simple catch to wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni.
Jaques had been a model of consistency since earning a recall to the Australian side since the retirement of Justin Langer, scoring 50 or more in each of his last six Test innings, but fell one short of matching the world record for consecutive Test 50s.
Hayden, who was man of the match in Australia's 337-run win in last week's first Test in Melbourne, departed in the ninth over when he was squared up by RJ Singh and edged the ball to the safe hands of Tendulkar.
Ponting and Hussey set about rebuilding the Australian innings with a 92-run partnership for the third wicket only to fall within two balls after lunch.
Ponting survived a confident appeal for caught behind off Sauruv Ganguly on 17 then a missed stumping chance from Harbhajan on 31 to bring up his half-century before his luck deserted him.
He had just struck his ninth boundary when he was given out lbw after getting a thick edge to a ball that went on to strike his pads.
Hussey was then caught by Tendulkar off RP Singh before Harbhajan trapped Clarke and there were signs of panic when Gilchrist departed for seven, also caught by Tendulkar off RP Singh, before Symonds and Hogg restored some calm with six boundaries each.
Brief Score (at tea, D-1):
Australia 214/6 (Ponting 55, Symonds 39, Hogg 48 n o; RP 4 for 56, Harbhajan 2 for 55) Vs India.