A gritty 57-run partnership for the 10th wicket helped Australia avoid defeat on day four of the first Test in Chennai on Monday.
Number 11 Nathan Lyon (eight not out) joined debutant Moises Henriques (75 not out) at the crease with the tourists reeling at 9-175 in their second innings, in response to India's mammoth score of 572.
But they passed the 192 needed to make India bat again and finished on 9-232, giving Australia a slender lead of 40 runs as the day concluded.
The day was a disappointing one for Australia, who were bamboozled by the spin of Ravichandran Ashwin (5-90 off 28 overs) once again.
Backing up from a seven-wicket haul in the first innings, Ashwin again wreaked havoc and claimed both openers Ed Cowan (32) and Shane Watson (17) in addition to the prized scalp of captain Michael Clarke (31).
But Henriques' valiant display – which came from 124 deliveries and included six fours and two sixes – at least gave Clarke's men something to be proud of on a day in which the result slipped away from them.
India resumed the day's play at 8-515 with captain MS Dhoni unbeaten on 206 and debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar on 16.
Dhoni (224) was perhaps lucky to survive a strong lbw appeal from James Pattinson (5-96 off 30) on the third ball of the day but the wicketkeeper quickly assumed control, walloping Lyon (3-215 off 47) for six over long on in the very next over.
Dhoni did not last much longer as a sharp Pattinson bouncer caught his gloves and was caught by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
Kumar (38) proved he was handy with the bat but his resistance ended in the 155th over when he was dismissed by Peter Siddle (1-66 off 24.3), leaving India with an advantage of almost 200 runs.
With Australia's first-choice opener David Warner struggling with gastro, Cowan was partnered with Watson as India opened the bowling with spin at both ends.
And although they were not initially successful, the new pairing added just 34 for the first wicket before Watson was dismissed on the last ball before lunch, edging Ashwin to Virender Sehwag at first slip.
Warner came to the crease at number three but quickly saw Cowan – trapped lbw by Ashwin – and Phil Hughes (zero) depart at the other end.
Hughes failed again in the match when he gloved a Ravindra Jadeja (2-68 off 26) delivery to Sehwag while Harbhajan Singh (2-55 off 27) got in on the act when he removed Warner lbw.
Australia had lost three wickets in less than 10 overs and although Clarke was dropped by Kohli on zero, the dismissals kept coming.
Wade (eight) missed an attempted sweep and was bowled by Harbhajan while Clarke failed to capitalise on his stroke of luck when he was dismissed lbw off the consistent bowling of Ashwin.
Jadeja added the wicket of Siddle (two) and tail-enders Pattinson (11) and Mitchell Starc (eight) also fell cheaply.
Henriques – who could have been run out on one by Jadeja – played a terrific knock though and kept his country alive.
He and Lyon could have easily played a rash stroke and given in but they fought on and frustrated their opponents.
But Henriques and Lyon's show of application and defiance forced the match into a fifth and final day.
First Posted 25 February, 2013 10:56PM AEST