Fourth Test, Nagpur, day four (close):
India 441 & 295 v Australia 355 & 13-0
Dates: 6-10 November Start time: 0400 GMT each day
Coverage: Live on Sky Sports. Text commentary on BBC Sport website
Dhoni's stand with Harbhajan turned the match back India's way
Australia need a further 369 runs to win the final Test against India after closing the penultimate day on 13-0.
Virender Sehwag struck a fluent 92 as India raced to 116-0 before they lost three quick wickets, including Sourav Ganguly first ball in his final Test.
But Australia chose to use occasional bowlers in a bid to speed-up their slow over-rate, and Mahendra Dhoni hit 55 in a vital 108 stand with Harbhajan Singh.
Harbhajan fired his sixth Test fifty as India, who lead 1-0, made 295 all out.
The tourists took 13 from the first over in Nagpur, but with the record winning last-innings score in India of 276, they look poised to lose a series for the first time since the 2005 Ashes.
With such attention now paid to Twenty20 matches, much has made of the often negative passages of play in this series, but the penultimate day perfectly demonstrated the absorbing, subtle fluctuations that are so unique to Test cricket.
India had been coasting along with Sehwag scoring fluently at will.
Proving the theory that runs are much easier with the newer, harder ball, Sehwag reached his 17th Test fifty with his sixth four.
He moved into the 90s by dispatching a Jason Krejza full toss through mid-wicket for four more and Australian hopes looked distinctly remote, with the majority of their fielders sent out to the boundary instead of in catching positions.
Krejza, who conceded 67 from his first 11 overs, continued to give the ball air, despite being hit straight down the ground for six in the first over after lunch by Sehwag.
But Shane Watson, who was deceptively hostile, utilised reverse swing to trap Murali Vijay and nipped one away to take the edge of the out-of-touch Rahul Dravid.
Then Krejza turned the match with two wickets in two balls, firstly uprooting the leg-stump of VVS Laxman with a ball than spun from outside off via the inside edge.
Ganguly, who has averaged 40 or above throughout his 12-year Test career, could have done without beginning his final innings on a pitch with plenty of footmarks against an enthusiastic off-spinner capable of prodigious turn.
It all ended for the left-hander when he tried to turn his first ball to leg. The ball turned and took a leading edge and Krejza took a neat low return catch.
Ganguly can at least console himself with the thought that he, like Sir Don Bradman, scored a duck in his final Test, and after 188 innings his final average was an impressive 42, although Bradman's, of course, was a remarkable 99.4.
When Tendulkar was run-out to signal tea India were only 252 ahead
But there was no time for sentiment as Sachin Tendulkar, in his 154th Test, was guilty of some schoolboy-style running and was run out for 12 with two balls remaining before tea.
With Ponting briefly off the field, acting skipper Michael Clarke became concerned about how far his team were behind the over-rate and brought the erratic leg-spinner Cameron White on to bowl.
But it was the run-rate that increased as 12 came from the over and the impetus noticeably switched India's way again.
Ponting had already been involved in a heated debate with umpire Aleem Dar about the state of the ball, but then neared boiling point when four overthrows raced past Krejza as he was being handed back his cap by the official.
After Mike Hussey's non-descript slow medium-pacers were briefly employed, Clarke was given a bowl but a long hop was punched through mid-wicket by Dhoni to record the fifty partnership and more significantly the 300 lead.
India's century stand came from 150 balls, and though Watson was brought back to take two more wickets and wrap up the innings it seemed that the damage had been done.