Ponting and Cowan hit back at MCG

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Debutant Ed Cowan and the under-fire Ricky Ponting hit half-centuries to hand the ascendancy back to Australia at tea on the first day of the Boxing Day Test against India at the MCG.

Ponting made 62 and Cowan an unbeaten 58, the pair sharing a third-wicket stand of 113 as the hosts reached the interval on 170 for three.

The Indian pace attack struggled in the second session of the day, with Umesh Yadav bearing the brunt of the post-lunch onslaught before gaining some revenge by removing former captain Ponting shortly before tea.

Yadav had earlier dismissed David Warner for 37 and Shaun Marsh for a duck to have figures of three wickets for 66.

Michael Clarke (seven) was with Cowan at the crease at the break.

After dismissing Warner and Marsh in the space of seven balls in the morning, 24-year-old Yadav was brought back into the attack and immediately began to struggle.

He conceded 34 runs, including five boundaries, from just four overs after lunch to hand the initiative back to Australia.

The hosts were only 68 for two at lunch, but Ponting and Cowan hit 48 from the next 49 balls as they scored heavily off Yadav and, to a lesser extent, Zaheer Khan (nought for 30).