By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - After soaking up 137 balls as his batting partners fell all around him on Monday, makeshift opener Matthew Wade said he would be happy to remain at the top of Australia's order for the rest of the test series against India.
Promoted to replace the injured David Warner, Wade was dismissed for 40 on day three of the second test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground but it proved to be Australia's highest score as the home side crashed to 133 for six at stumps.
On an otherwise gloomy day for home fans, Wade's endurance was heartening for Tim Paine's team, especially when weighed against the troubles of his opening partner Joe Burns.
With Burns out for a duck and four in Melbourne, it may well be the specialist opener making way, rather than stand-in Wade, if Warner is fit for the third test in Sydney.
"Getting out there and getting into it is something I’ve really enjoyed," said Wade, who admitted to struggling as a spectator when batting lower down the order.
"When (coach) Justin (Langer) asked if I was happy to do it, I didn’t really know what to expect.
"But now I’ve done it, it’s fine ... Who knows? We’ll wait and see with red-ball."
Wade was out slogging Ravichandran Ashwin during a brisk, 39-ball 30 in the first innings and was trapped lbw by Ravindra Jadeja on day three. He scored eight and 33 in Australia's dominant eight-wicket win in the series-opener in Adelaide.
Wade's output compares favourably with most of his batting team mates, especially Steve Smith, who was bowled around his legs for eight by Jasprit Bumrah on Monday, following a duck in the first innings.
Smith, on his worst run of scores in tests, nursed a back problem in the leadup to Adelaide but Wade said the master batsman had not complained of it.
Australia's rescue mission will be in the hands of young all-rounder Cameron Green (17 not out) and tailender Pat Cummins (15) on day four.
Wade said Australia's bowlers would take "anything" to defend. Australia, after all, won in Adelaide after India were skittled for 36, their lowest test innings total.
"It would be really nice for these two to get a nice partnership," Wade said hopefully of Green and Cummins.
"Anything over 100 would be good."