A defiant last-wicket stand between all-rounder Moises Henriques and tail-ender Nathan Lyon saw Australia force the first Test into a fifth day in Chepauk, Chennai.
Henriques and Lyon's collective refusal to go down without a fight capped a day that otherwise belonged to India, namely captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Resuming on 206 not out overnight, Dhoni was ultimately out for 224 - the highest Test score by an Indian skipper and the greatest tally by a wicketkeeper-batsman against the Australians.
The cavalier Dhoni's intent to push India's total into the late 500s - and possibly 600 - was evident from Monday's second delivery, which was reverse-swept for four. That stroke typified a very trying match for spinner Lyon, who copped all of 215 runs from his 47 first-innings overs.
It took a throat-threatening short ball from fast bowler James Pattinson to end the double-centurion's vigil - and a 140-run alliance alongside tail-ender Bhuvneshar Kumar. Such was Dhoni's dominance, he accrued more than three quarters of that partnership.
Seamer Peter Siddle ended the innings with the removal of debutant Kumar for 38, leaving India all out for 572 - and the recipients of a formidable lead of 192. The tourists, meanwhile, were hampered by opener David Warner's bout of gastroenteritis - and all-rounder Shane Watson was pushed to the top of the knock.
The veteran Dhoni had spent enough time at the crease, over six hours in total, to understand the general makeup and variables of the the MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch.
The skipper's sage deduction of a deck brimming with turn, fizz and bounce saw spinners Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh open the attack. Left-armer Ravindra Jadeja was introduced first change, fast bowler Ishant Sharma was reduced to a veritable non-entity - and Kumar didn't get a bowl at all in the second innings.
The Indians deployed as many as five close-in fielders for the bulk of the innings, entirely warranted given the spitting nature of the surface. The fall of the visiting top- through middle-order was a weak precession.
Opener Ed Cowan lacked footwork, the left-handed Phil Hughes failed to ride the additional bounce, wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade's penchant for patience dissipated - and skipper Michael Clarke's hopeful counterattack ultimately backfired.
At 131 for six and reeling, a heavy Australian defeat inside three days beckoned. The post-tea session, however, brought a spirited effort, though - led by the in-form Henriques.
Eager to prove himself with the bat again ahead of second Test selection, which might see the selectors opt for spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell instead of his seaming counterpart, Henriques delivered to the tune of 75 not out - the highest score of his burgeoning career. Lyon, meanwhile, was resolute in his unbeaten eight off 47 deliveries.
While the damage of Ashwin's second-innings five-for - and a dozen wickets for the match - as well as Jadeja and Harbhajan's key braces had been done, the Aussies drew pleasure in avoiding an innings defeat - and found a nominal 40-run lead.
Day five, however, will only bring futile resistance, before a visiting attack sans a threatening spinner will cop a hefty loss. By how many wickets and how quickly, though, will sit in the hands of the hard-hitting Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay's mood.