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With the mercury tipping 36C on a scorching Perth day, Australia's four-pronged pace attack knew they would be in for a tough slog.

And with India cruising at 2-198, Australia looked to be in a fair amount of trouble.

But a gutsy performance from paceman Brett Lee (3-64 from 19 overs) and a cameo from Mitchell Johnson (2-62) ensured Australia ended day one of the third Test on top, with India reduced to 6-297 by stumps.

Andrew Symonds' dismissal of Rahul Dravid (93) and Lee's wicket of VVS Laxman (27) in the final 40 minutes of play turned the day in Australia's favour.

"We just had to hang in there, if we had them four down for 300 it might have been a different story and you'd probably give India the tick in the box," Lee said.

"Those two late wickets, six down, I think Australia is in a pretty good spot now. It was pretty hot out there. When you see seagulls walking around with their mouths open, you know it's a pretty warm day."

"I think a few of our guys were doing it as well, it was tough out there but you just have to hang in there. I knew that I only had a couple of overs to go and the second new ball is crucial, we always try to pick up (a) wicket or two and that was the case today."

“The wicket was a pretty good wicket. It probably didn't have the bounce and pace that we all thought it would. But it was a great wicket to bowl on and I think it will be a bit quicker tomorrow. It looks like a pretty decent batting wicket as well once you get in and get set. We have to make sure tomorrow morning we get a few early wickets."

Lee has matured remarkably as a bowler in the past couple of years, taking the mantle of No.1 paceman in the wake of Glenn McGrath's retirement at the end of last summer.

"What I have done over the last couple of years… I know when to go up and down a gear," Lee said.

"There are times when you're running in bowling about 95 per cent of your maximum and try to get the ball the right line and length, there are times when you have to go full tilt and that was today. When you need a wicket you have to go up to that next gear."
 
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