MELBOURNE (AFP) - Sachin Tendulkar was bowled with three balls left on the second day of the first Test against Australia on Tuesday to be denied a crack at his 100th international century.

Tendulkar looked poised to go to stumps and make yet another attempt to reach the landmark before he was bowled by Siddle for 73 in the day's final over.

India reached the close in a commanding position at 214 for three, trailing Australia's first innings 333 by 119 runs. Rahul Dravid was unbeaten on 68 after getting a reprieve on 65 when he was bowled by a Siddle no-ball.

Tendulkar looked in great touch but lost his stumps in an inspired final over from the stout-hearted Siddle.  He faced just 98 balls and hit eight fours and a six in a 117-run stand with Dravid for the third wicket.

The "Little Master" played some signature cover drives and an audacious upper cut over the slips for six off Siddle's first ball after tea. Spinner Ravi Ashwin said India would have to start again after the loss of Tendulkar's wicket.

There were precious few high points for Australia on a back-breaking day in the field other than the wickets of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

Paceman James Pattinson bowled the adventurous Sehwag in the penultimate over before tea to bring Tendulkar to the crease, greeted by a standing ovation from the 53,000 MCG crowd. Sehwag was dropped three times on his way to a brisk 67 off 83 balls with seven fours in his 75-run stand with Dravid.

He had his first let-off on 11 when he was dropped by Mike Hussey low in the gully off Pattinson. Sehwag continued to live dangerously and hit successive fours off spinner Nathan Lyon to reach 51, but attempted a lofted shot next ball that was put down in a difficult diving chance by David Warner at long on. Sehwag has now scored 8,047 runs in 93 Tests. Gambhir edged to Haddin for three in the eighth over. Earlier, the Australia tail added 56 runs for the last four wickets in 97 minutes of batting time.

Haddin only lasted 10 minutes before he snicked Zaheer Khan to Sehwag in the gully for 27, ending a partnership of 72 runs with Siddle. Siddle's 99-ball resistance ended with a great delivery from Zaheer.

The Indian left-armer got one to leave Siddle off the pitch and prise a catch behind for Dhoni for 41.  Hilfenhaus hit three fours in his unrestrained 19 before holing out to Virat Kohli in the deep off spinner Ashwin.

Zaheer finished the best of India's bowlers with four for 77 off 31 overs, while Umesh Yadav and Ashwin claimed three wickets each.

ScoreCard

AUSTRALIA 1ST INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 277-6):

E Cowan c Dhoni b Ashwin    68

D Warner c Dhoni b Yadav    37

S Marsh c Kohli b Yadav    0

R Ponting c Laxman b Yadav    62

M Clarke b Zaheer Khan    31

M Hussey c Dhoni b Zaheer    0

B Haddin c Sehwag b Zaheer    27

P Siddle c Dhoni b Zaheer    41

J Pattinson not out    18

B Hilfenhaus c Kohli b Ashwin    19

N Lyon b Ashwin    6

EXTRAS: (lb21, w2, nb1)    24

TOTAL: (all out; 110 overs)    333

FOW: 1-46, 2-46, 3-159, 4-205, 5-205, 6-214, 7-286, 8-291, 9-318, 10-333

BOWLING: Zaheer Khan 31-6-77-4, Sharma 24-7-48-0, Yadav 26-5-106-3, Ashwin 29-3-81-3

INDIA 1ST INNINGS:

G Gambhir c Haddin b Hilfenhaus    3

V Sehwag b Pattinson    67

R Dravid not out    68

S Tendulkar b Siddle    73

I Sharma not out    0

EXTRAS: (w1, nb2)    3

TOTAL: (for 3 wkts; 65 overs)    214

FOW: 1-22, 2-97, 3-214

BOWLING: Pattinson 15-3-35-1, Hilfenhaus 14-1-50-1, Siddle 15-2-53-1, Lyon 14-2-53-0, Hussey 5-0-15-0, Warner 2-0-8-0

TOSS: Australia