Sydney: India were 98 for two in their desperate rearguard action at the close of play on the fourth day of the third test on Sunday, still 308 runs behind Australia and a full day’s batting away from saving the match.
Openers Shubman Gill (31) and Rohit Sharma (52) were winkled out by the Australian pace attack in the final session, leaving Cheteshwar Pujara, who had scored nine not out, and skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who was unbeaten on four, to continue the fight.
With no rain forecast for Monday, the tourists face a long day batting on a deteriorating wicket if they are to avoid going 2-1 down in the series before they head to Brisbane for the final test.
Australia had declared at tea on 312 for six on the back of a maiden test half century from all-rounder Cameron Green (84) along with useful contributions from Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith.
That left India needing 407 runs to win the match, a highly improbable target given the highest successful fourth-innings run chase at Sydney Cricket Ground was the 288-2 Australia scored to beat South Africa in 2005-6.
India were missing Ravindra Jadeja’s left-arm spin bowling and Rishabh Pant behind the stumps after they sustained a dislocated thumb and an elbow injury respectively on Saturday.
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah was again the pick of the Indian bowlers and would have dismissed Labuschagne off the second delivery of the day had Hanuma Vihari held onto the catch at square leg.
Sharma later helped Tim Paine avoid a duck when he dropped a catch of Bumrah in the slips, the Australia skipper going on to make 39 not out.
The rest of Australian runs came from the usual suspects with Labuschagne making the most of his reprieve to notch up his 10th half century in 17 tests with an innings of 73.
Smith, who scored 131 in the first innings, looked to be heading for another century when Ravichandran Ashwin referred an lbw decision to DRS and the batsman was sent on his way for 81, the third time in the series he has fallen to the spinner.
Green was caution itself before reaching the half century mark but then accelerated with the declaration in sight, plundering four big sixes before getting a faint edge to a Bumrah delivery.
A group of fans in the socially-distanced crowd of 7,225 were removed from their seats by police just before tea after bowler Mohammed Siraj complained to the umpire.
Cricket Australia later apologised to the India team and promised the “strongest measures” against anyone in the ground guilty of vilification after visiting players alleged they had been racially abused.