Australia are confident they can put a competitive total on the board as they resume on tomorrow's third day of the third Test against India at 7-273 in their first innings.

Dashing No.5 Steve Smith, in his first Test since 2011, is on 58 with tailender Mitchell Starc 20 not out.

Desperate for a big first-innings total after heavy losses in the first two matches of the four-Test series, Australia were well-placed at 0-139 but lost 7-112 in an all-too-familiar collapse.

The 23-year-old Smith, whose recall came after the shock one-match suspensions of four players for failing to complete a homework assignment, has shown plenty of flair in his 137-ball display that has included seven fours and one six.


Opener Ed Cowan (86) batted for almost five hours and soaked up 238 deliveries, hitting eight fours.

David Warner (71) and Cowan shared a 139-run stand before India hit back with spinners Ravi Jadeja (3-56), Ravi Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha taking vital wickets.

Australia's first-innings failures after winning the toss have set them up for big defeats in the first two Tests of the four-match series but Cowan says things could be different this time.

"If you bowl well enough, it's a tough wicket to score on,'' the opener said on Friday night.

"There's no grass on it. There's a lot of cracks.

"The ball if it catches a crack it can deviate either way.

"The ball was roughing up so we saw a lot of reverse-swing.

"You can't judge a wicket until both sides bat on it.

"If we can get another 70 or 80 in the morning, 350 runs on the board on a wicket that's playing a few tricks already, we believe that's lots of runs if we bowl well.''