India were dismissed for 295 in their second innings, setting Australia a record target of 382 to win the fourth and final Test in Nagpur.
In reply, the visitors raced to 13 without loss in 1.3 overs before accepting the offer of bad light at the end of Day 4. Matthew Hayden was unbeaten on five, with Simon Katich on eight from two boundaries.
The talking point of the day, however, was Sourav Ganguly's first-ball dismissal in his final Test innings. He was caught and bowled by Jason Krejza. The debutant off-spinner, who claimed eight wickets in the first innings, had a haul of 4 for 143 in the second to finish with match figures of 12 for 358.
Earlier, in the morning, Virender Sehwag gave India a flying start, smashing a quickfire 92 in a 116-run opening stand with debutant Murali Vijay (41). However, the middle order failed to consolidate after his exit as India lost six wickets -- three for three runs in the space of three overs -- in the post-lunch session,
But fighting half-centuries from Mahendra Singh Dhoni (55) and Harbhajan Singh (52) ensured Australia were set a huge target on a pitch increasingly difficult to bat on.
The highest successful run chase on Indian soil is by the West Indies, who got exactly the 276 needed for victory for the loss of five wickets at the Ferozshah Kotla in 1987-88.
Australia's highest run chase in India was 194 at Bangalore in 1998. They ended up with 195 for 2.
India lead the four-match series 1-0 after the 320-run victory in Mohali and need only a draw to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Morning session: (26 overs, 98 runs)
The Indian openers came out all guns blazing and were quick to pounce on every scoring opportunity. The first boundary came in the second over of the day when Virender Sehwag drove Mitchell Johnson through the off-side. A few quiet overs followed before Sehwag broke the shackles with consecutive boundaries off Brett Lee to take India to 34 for no loss after 10 overs.
Australia also tried to imitate India's tactics by having a packed off-side field, with as many as seven fielders, but Sehwag still had a go at everything.
The openers took on debutant Jason Krejza as soon as he was introduced and showed scant respect for the 24-year-old's eight-wicket haul in the first innings. They showed the Aussies how to score runs despite a defensive field as they launched into Krejza's gentle off-spin. While Sehwag swept deliveries from outside the off-stump to the leg-side boundary, Vijay got a couple of boundaries, cutting short deliveries to the point fence.
Sehwag completed his half-century in style when he slog-swept Krejza to the midwicket fence in the 22nd over of the innings. The right-hander's second fifty of the match took just 76 balls and included six boundaries.
He then celebrated the landmark with another lofted boundary through the midwicket region as Krejza went for 36 in his first six overs.
At lunch, India were 98 for no loss in 27 overs, extending their overall lead to 184 runs.
Quite clearly, India's batting display indicated that if there is a will there is a way. Their openers put on 98 runs in 26 overs in the morning session, in sharp contrast to Australia crawling to a meager 42 runs in 24 overs in the first session on Day 3.
In fact, the visitors had scored just 91 runs in 43 overs in the two sessions on Friday and must now be ruing their approach.
India don't need to come up with anything extraordinary; if they continue batting at the same rate, victory is guaranteed.
Post-lunch session: (68 runs, 22.5 overs, 6 wickets)
Sehwag took on Krejza straight after the lunch break, lifting the second delivery of the session for a huge six over long-off; three balls later he smashed another straight boundary.
In the next over, Shane Watson claimed the first wicket of the Indian innings when he trapped Vijay leg before for 41. The debutant was involved in an important stand of 116 with Sehwag that helped set up this match perfectly in India's pursuit for a victory. The 24-year-old made a huge impact in his debut match, scoring 33 in the first and then showing lightning reflexes on the field effecting two brilliant run-outs.
'The Wall' came crumbling down yet again for India. Rahul Dravid registered another failure when he fell caught behind to Shane Watson for 3. It ended a miserable and, possibly, the worst series for him as he finished with a tally of 120 runs in seven innings at an average of 17.14.
Since his century (111) against South Africa in Chennai in March, the right-hander scored just two half-centuries for a tally of 335 runs in 17 innings at 20.93 against his career average of 52.61.
Sachin Tendulkar got off the mark with a cracking boundary through the covers off Watson in the 35th over.
Lee replace Krejza, who was being hammered to all parts by Sehwag, and the move paid off immediately. The fast bowler got the dashing opener caught down the leg side by the wicketkeeper off a short delivery. Sehwag raced to 92, having hit 10 boundaries and a six in his 107-ball knock.
But Krejza came back with a vengeance. Just like in the first innings, the debutant spinner showed great resolve after the initial mauling and claim two wickets in successive deliveries.
VVS Laxman struggled to get going before he was bowled by a magical delivery from Krejza. The right-hander made 4 from 34 deliveries before he was bowled through the gate from one that pitched on the rough and turned in miles.
Sourav Ganguly did a Don Bradman as he fell for a duck in his final Test innings. He walked out a standing ovation from the crowd and the Australian team in the middle, but returned immediately after being caught and bowled by Krejza off the first ball he faced.
It ended a remarkable career. The left-hander finished with a tally of 7212 runs in 113 Tests, inclusive of 16 centuries and 35 half-centuries. He also led India in 49 Tests, out of which he finished on the winning side in 21.
In his last Test series, Ganguly finished with 324 runs in eight innings at 54.00, with one century and a fifty. A shell-shocked crowd, journalists and team mates in the pavilion watched in disbelief as he walked back to the pavilion.
Australia bagged another big wicket in the session when they scalped Tendulkar in the final over before tea. He was run out for 12 after a huge misunderstanding with captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni that left India reeling at 166 for six in 49.5 overs at the tea break.
It turned out to be a disastrous session for India as they lost six wickets after lunch, including three wickets for three runs in the space of three overs.
Quite clearly, the fantastic bowling performance has ensured that there is still a small door left open for the Aussies if things also work out to plan in the final session of play. India will be desperate to score a few more runs after tea and make sure that they set Australia a target in excess of 300.
Post-tea session: (142 runs, 34.2 overs, 4 wickets)
Harbhajan Singh and Dhoni looked to stay positive in the final session with quick running between the wickets and the odd sweep shot off the spinners.
Strangely, Australia were not keen on taking wickets either as part-timer Michael Hussey was given the ball ahead of strike bowlers Mitchell Johnson or Brett Lee. India made slow but steady progress as they crossed the 200-run mark in the 61st over.
Hussey was replaced by another part-timer, Michael Clarke, as India stretched their lead past the 300-run mark. Australia's defensive tactics were strange considering that they were 0-1 down and a draw would give India the series. It appeared as if captain Ricky Ponting was in some other world.
The Aussies were also pulled up a couple of times by the umpires for trying to pull the seam off the ball. They also had a few arguments with the two umpires after a few overthrows as the realization that they were being outplayed was getting clear.
Why Australia didn't bring back their fast bowlers and go in for the kill after reducing India to 166 for 6 is one question that should rankle fans Down Under.
Dhoni and Harbhajan mainly employed the sweep shot against the spinners for majority of their runs. Part-timer Clarke came in for some rough treatment when he was smashed for two boundaries in a single over, which also brought up the 100-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Ponting seemed to have woken up finally after 26 overs in the session when he introduced a regular bowler in Shane Watson at the other end.
Dhoni fell for a brilliant 55, brilliantly caught by Hussey off Krejza. The Indian captain's 81-ball knock included four boundaries and his 108-run partnership with Harbhajan had all but sealed the fate of the visitors. However, one Aussie was still enjoying his time in the middle. It was Krejza's third wicket of the innings, taking his match tally to 11 wickets in his first Test.
Zaheer Khan also employed the sweep shot against Krejza to get off the mark with a boundary.
Meanwhile, Harbhajan completed his half-century off Krejza's bowling from 90 deliveries, having hit five boundaries. It was his sixth Test fifty and incidentally four of them have come against the World champions.
Krejza continued his wicket ways when he had Zaheer brilliantly caught by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin after the initial fumble for 6.
Krejza now had 12 wickets in the match. They are the best figures by a touring spinner in India. But despite that Australia were staring down the barrel.
Harbhajan was bowled by a fast reverse swinging delivery from Watson that came a long way into the batsman. He made 52 from 94 deliveries, including five boundaries, playing a crucial in India's revival after they were reduced to 166 for six.
Amit Mishra was bowled by Watson for 1 as India were dismissed for 295 in 82.4 overs, setting Australia a challenging total of 382.
For Krejza, it was a match he will cherish forever. The debutant off-spinner, who claimed eight wickets in the first innings, added another four (4-143) to his kitty to finish with match figures of 12 wickets for 358.
Watson got the ball to reverse swing in the second innings to claim four for 42.
Australia started off in blazing fashion, taking 13 from Zaheer Khan's first over before they took the light in the second over. They reached 13 for no loss in 1.3 overs at stumps, needing another 369 runs to win the match and level the series.
It remains to be seen whether Australia will be brave enough to go for the target and look to level the series. Trailing 0-1 they have nothing to lose, but the defensive tactics they have employed till this point makes one wonder whether they will really take some chances and go for victory.