India's rejection of the decision review system in their Australian series provoked its first controversy Monday as the home side lost late wickets on the opening day of the first Test.
The Australians stumbled from 205 for three with three wickets tumbling in 18 balls to finish the day at 277 for six with Brad Haddin on 21 and Peter Siddle not out 34.
But the first day of the four-Test series before a 70,068 Boxing Day crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground was marred by the contentious dismissal of senior batsman Michael Hussey.
Hussey fell for his third Test golden duck in eight innings and was disgusted to be given out after replays appeared to show the delivery from Zaheer Khan had brushed his sleeve and not his bat.
Hussey was prevented from referring the umpire's verdict to the video umpire as the Indian cricket board has refused to use the Decision Review System in the series over concerns about the accuracy of electronic aids.
It could prove a career-ending dismissal for Hussey, whose future in the Australian team is increasingly under threat amid a run of low scores.
Debutant opener Ed Cowan anchored the Australian innings with a stoic 68 in almost five hours and the best part of 68 overs after skipper Michael Clarke had won the toss.
Australia were in a strong position before paceman Zaheer Khan, playing in his first Test match since July, removed Clarke and Hussey with consecutive deliveries.
Cowan went three overs later ending a 294-minute vigil when he feathered a catch behind off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Left-hander Cowan, who replaced chancy opener Phillip Hughes for his first Test match, protected his wicket with steely patience and a willingness to leave the ball in his 177-ball knock.
Clarke looked in good touch before he attempted to cut Zaheer only to play on to his stumps for 31, while Hussey went next ball adjudged to have got an edge to wicketkeeper M.S. Dhoni.
Ricky Ponting scored his 59th Test half-century and 10th against India before he fell to Umesh Yadav, finding V.V.S. Laxman at second slip for 62 in the only wicket to fall in the middle session.
Yet again the former Australian captain failed to go on to claim his century and it is now 33 innings and almost two years since his last Test hundred.
Ponting put on 113 runs with Cowan for the third wicket to steady the Australian innings after the first two wickets fell on 46.
Yadav claimed the first three wickets of the innings to finish with three for 96 off 20 overs.
Opener David Warner, who scored an unbeaten 123 in this month's Test against New Zealand, clouted a six in his typically breezy 37 off 49 balls.
A brief rain delay in the morning session brought about Warner's downfall first ball after the resumption when he attempted to hook Yadav only to dolly a catch to Dhoni in the 14th over.
Shaun Marsh's Test return only lasted six balls before he edged Yadav to Virat Kohli in the gully for a duck.
India are bidding to win their first series in Australia in 64 years and hold the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after winning the last two series at home.