Debutant Cowan victim of India’s refusal to allow decision reviews

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Australia finished on 277-6 at the end of a controversial first day of the Boxing Day Test against India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

India had refused to condone the use of the decision review system (DRS) in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series and that appeared to have implications with the dismissals of Michael Hussey (0) and debutant Ed Cowan (68) both questionable.

The visitors’ refusal could also have repercussions for Hussey, who is battling to save his Test career and must try to ease the pressure with an impressive second innings.

The two dismissals took place in a 19-ball period which saw the hosts lose three wickets for nine runs after they were 205-3.

Veteran paceman Zaheer Khan (2-49) was on a hat-trick when he bowled Michael Clarke for 31 and, with the next ball, umpire Marais Erasmus adjudged Hussey to have been caught behind by MS Dhoni. But TV replays suggested the ball missed the bat and glove.

And 16 balls later, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin (1-71) took the crucial wicket of Cowan when he was also caught behind by Dhoni although the DRS most likely would have given Cowan a reprieve with ‘Hot Spot’ appearing to show there was no nick.

It was an unfortunate end for the rock-solid Cowan, who hit the best score by an Australian opener on his debut since Wayne Phillips (159) in 1983-84 against Pakistan.

However, Brad Haddin (21no) and Peter Siddle (34no) steadied things with a handy unbeaten 63-run seventh-wicket union.

Australia had found themselves in a strong position thanks to a 113-run third-wicket partnership between Cowan and the under-fire Ricky Ponting (62).

Ponting recovered well from a jittery start and became more comfortable.

This was highlighted by three trademark pull shots for four off Khan and Umesh Yadav (3-96) who unsuccessfully attempted to test out Ponting with some poor short deliveries.

Ponting, who ended up with six boundaries, joined Cowan in the middle with the score on 46-2 and the pair ramped things up after lunch as they struck 48 from 49 balls, with Yadav copping the full brunt of the punishment.

After claiming David Warner (37) and Shaun Marsh (zero) in the space of seven balls in his first spell, Yadav was brought back into the attack but conceded 34 runs from four overs after lunch, which Australia had reached on 68-2.

But just as Ponting looked like he was building towards his 40th Test century, Yadav had the former Australian captain caught by VVS Laxman at second slip.