Ajinkya Rahane played a captain's knock with a century that steered India into a dominant position and took the sting out of Australia's potent bowling attack in the second Test here on Sunday.
Trailing 0-1 in the four-match series, India ended the second day at 277 for five for a handy 82-run lead after bowling out Australia for 195 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
At stumps, which was brought early owing to rain, Rahane was going strong on 104 and giving him company was Ravindra Jadeja on 40, the two having added what might prove to be a game-changing 104-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
This was Rahane's 12th Test hundred and his second at the iconic venue, after a fine 147 during the 2014 tour.
A day after earning rich praise for his tactical acumen while marshalling the bowlers, Rahane shone bright with the bat and was spot on with his reading of match situations during his stay in the middle.
Rahane got a life when Steve Smith dropped him on 73 at second slip in Australia's first over with the second new ball, the unlucky bowler being Mitchell Starc, who was taken off the attack after just two overs with the shining red cherry.
That particular phase was crucial from both the team's point of view and by not losing a wicket to the second new ball, India ensured they finished the day ahead of Australia, in terms of runs as well as psychologically.
Rahane got another reprieve when substitute fielder Travis Head put one down after diving forward from gully, but that was after he had got to the three-figure mark.
To start with, Rahane was more watchful that he had ever been but as the day progressed, he went on to play some sumptuous shots and one of his day's best was the classic off-drive against Pat Cummins.
Former India batsmen Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag were among those who hailed Rahane for his batting.
This is Rahane's eighth Test ton overseas and this is his first hundred as captain of Team India. With this knock, Rahane also became the second Indian batsman to score a century on his first match as captain in Australia.
Kohli was the first one to achieve the feat in 2014 when he registered a century in Adelaide. Kohli had gone back home after the first Test against Australia after being granted paternity leave by the BCCI.
On day one of the second Test, India had bundled out Australia for 195 as Jasprit Bumrah scalped four wickets while Ravichandran Ashwin took three wickets.
(With PTI inputs)