Sachin Tendulkar's latest setback within sight of his elusive 100th international century may have dismayed fans at the first Melbourne Test on Tuesday, but not his Indian teammates.

Test cricket's greatest run-getter was bowled for 73 by paceman Peter Siddle with just three balls left on the second day of the opening Test against Australia.

The wicket sent groans around the vast Melbourne Cricket Ground from the sizeable Indian contingent in the 53,000 crowd, denied the chance of seeing the "Little Master" reach the landmark on Wednesday.

India reached the close in a commanding position at 214 for three, trailing Australia's first innings 333 by 119 runs with Rahul Dravid, second only to Tendulkar for most Test runs, unbeaten on 68.

"It's going to eventually happen," teammate Ravi Ashwin said after the day's play. "No point in bothering about it. We're very happy to be in the position we are presently.

"Probably one wicket less would have been nice. He played very well but eventually he got a good ball."

Tendulkar, who has been on 99 Test and ODI centuries since scoring 111 against South Africa in the World Cup in March, looked in vintage touch before he lost his stumps in an inspired final over from Siddle.

India would have to rebuild before the second new ball, "stick our heads out and bat really well tomorrow", Ashwin said.

"We know how Rahul and Sachin could really stack it up. That didn't happen, hopefully someone else, we know (V.V.S.) Laxman is there."

India, chasing their first-ever series win in Australia for 64 years, have the opportunity to press on for victory over the concluding three days of the opening Test.

"It's too far ahead to think about it, honestly," Ashwin said. "If sun beats down and wicket eases more and more, we need to bat as much possible and get as much as lead as possible.