James Pattinson took four wickets as Australia bundled India out for 191 on the opening day of the second test on Tuesday, before coming through a top order crisis of their own to finish a frenetic day on 116 for three.
Michael Clarke (47) and his predecessor as skipper Ricky Ponting (44) put on an unbeaten 79 for the fourth wicket to put Australia 75 runs behind after Zaheer Khan had removed their top three batsmen with just 37 runs on the board.
As in their 122-run first test victory in Melbourne last week, Australia had pace bowlers Pattinson (4-43), Peter Siddle (3-55) and Ben Hilfenhaus (3-51) to thank for constricting the world class Indian batting line-up.
Siddle ended the India innings with his 100th test wicket after Hilfenhaus had mopped up most of the tail but it was 21-year-old Pattinson who again caught the eye in just his fourth test.
Bowling with genuine pace, Pattinson took just three balls of the morning to take the wicket of Gautam Gambhir before adding those of the other opener Virender Sehwag and dangermen VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar.
"I'm loving it," Pattinson told reporters. "I'm honoured to be out there playing against some of the best batsmen in the world and getting Sachin out is something I'll remember for the rest of my life, it's an amazing feeling."
Tendulkar came out to a huge ovation and had looked by far the most comfortable Indian batsman before he chopped a widish Pattinson delivery onto his stumps for 41, as he was thwarted in his latest quest for a 100th international century.
India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was to hit a team-high 57 not out, won the toss and elected to bat on a hot, sunny morning at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
It was, perhaps, a good toss to lose as Pattinson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus reprised their Melbourne barrage of pacey, good length deliveries on a pitch with a slight green tinge to it.
"I think we have to give the Australian bowlers credit today, they bowled some good line and length and put our batsmen under pressure," India coach Duncan Fletcher said.
"We did that first up but Ponting and Clarke batted well at the end. It's important that we get back to those lines and lengths tomorrow."
Embattled opener Gambhir will be disappointed with the jab at a Pattinson delivery that had him caught in the slips for a duck but he was not alone.
Rahul Dravid (five), a jittery-looking Sehwag (30) and Laxman (two) quickly followed the lefthander back to the pavilion to leave the tourists languishing on 59-4.
Virat Kohli and Tendulkar combined to ease the crisis before they were separated by a peach of a delivery from Siddle, which the former edged to Brad Haddin behind the stumps for 23.
Tendulkar, whose average at the SCG was a shade over 221 runs per innings, continued to pick his shots but back came the irrepressible Pattinson to end the 38-year-old's innings.
COUP DE GRACE
Dhoni and Ravi Ashwin put on 54 for the seventh wicket before Hilfenhaus finally got reward for his efforts with the wickets of Ashwin (20) and Zaheer (0) from successive balls.
After missing out on the hat-trick after the tea break, the dependable quick soon had Ishant Sharma out for a duck and Siddle performed the coup de grace on Umesh Yadav (0).
Zaheer soon had the Australian batsmen in all sorts of trouble, however, removing David Warner for eight when Tendulkar took the catch after a Laxman juggle in the slips.
Laxman made no mistake on Zaheer's next ball in his following over, Shaun Marsh taking the long walk back to the dressing room with a cartoon golden duck for company and the paceman steaming in for his own hat-trick chance.
It was not to be, but Zaheer did not have to wait too long for his third wicket when Ed Cowan was beaten for pace and trapped leg before for 16.
"We're in a great spot as a bowling group," Pattinson added.
"Hopefully tomorrow the batsmen can dig in and get a bit of a lead on it."