Hussey stands firm as wickets tumble in Melbourne

First Test, Melbourne (day three):
Australia 333 & 179-8 v India 282
Match scorecard
Mike Hussey
Mike Hussey put on 115 with fellow veteran Ricky Ponting to bolster Australia

Fifteen wickets fell for 274 runs on day three of the first Test between Australia and India in Melbourne, leaving the game evenly poised.

Ricky Ponting, 37, and Mike Hussey, 36, defied age and their critics to score fifties in a 115-run partnership as Australia reached 179-8 at the close.

That gave the hosts a 230-run lead after India made 282 in their first innings, Ben Hilfenhaus taking 5-75.

Hussey will resume the fourth day on 79 with James Pattinson on three.

After the close of play, former skipper Ponting, who is without a century for almost two years, said he had no plan to retire.

"I don't care what people outside the dressing room are saying, if I've got the support inside the dressing room that's all that really matters to me," he said.

"Deep down I know what I have to do to be the best player I can be.

"I've been trying to do that for a long time and it's been nice this week that I've got a couple of results, albeit not what I was quite after.

"One thing I've noticed right through the last few months when things have not been going the way I would have wanted, the support from the public has been outstanding."

Australia made a dramatic start to the day's play when recalled seamer Hilfenhaus removed Rahul Dravid's off-stump with a fullish delivery from the second ball.

VVS Laxman made only two before nicking a Peter Siddle delivery to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, who took four catches in the morning session.

Hilfenhaus had Virat Kohli caught behind for 11 before taking the new ball and removing Mahendra Dhoni to leave India struggling on 245-7.

Night-watchman Ishant Sharma became Hilfenhaus's fifth wicket of the innings when he was caught behind for 11 after surviving 69 balls, while Zaheer Khan was bowled by James Pattinson.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Umesh Yadav shared a 23-run 10th-wicket partnership before Siddle bowled Ashwin to end the innings.

In reply, India paceman Yadav (4-49) took three quick wickets in the afternoon session to leave Australia reeling on 27-4 before Ponting and Hussey came together to halt the slide.

Hussey, who made golden ducks in his previous two innings, hit seven boundaries in a defiant knock, his place in the side having been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

The left-hander, who received a dubious umpiring decision in the first innings, saw his luck change as he was given the benefit of the doubt in an lbw appeal and dropped by Dravid in the slips when on 69.

Former captain Ponting, who scored 62 in the first innings, made a classy 60 before attempting to drive Zaheer and directing a thick edge to Virender Sehwag in the gully.

Brad Haddin was out next over when a rash shot to Zaheer was snapped up by Laxman, and Peter Siddle made four before becoming Yadav's fourth wicket, caught behind.

Lyon was out lbw to fellow spinner Ashwin, which brought Pattinson to the crease and left Hussey with the prospect of running out of partners.

Earlier, opener David Warner chopped Yadav onto his stumps before Yadav claimed Australia's first-innings top-scorer Ed Cowan lbw for eight when he padded up to an inswinger.

Shaun Marsh scored just three - after a first-innings duck - before becoming Yadav's third victim, also playing onto his stumps.

Australia were four wickets down after just 12 overs when captain Michael Clarke, playing forward to a Sharma delivery, also played on.