Spinner Nathan Lyon claimed the prized wicket of Indian captain Virat Kohli as Australia closed in on victory in the second Test in Perth on Monday.
Set 287 to win on an unpredictable pitch, India were reduced to 112 for five at stumps on the fourth day.
Hanuma Vihari was 24 not out and Rishabh Pant was on nine.
The visitors still needed 175 to win with just five wickets in hand as Australia seek to level the four-Test series.
India lead 1-0 after victory in Adelaide, but have never won a Test series in Australia. The loss of Kohli appeared a fatal blow to their chances of a famous win.
Lyon dismissed Kohli for the seventh time in Test cricket, two more than any other bowler, when he had him caught at slip by Usman Khawaja for 17.
Kohli was unable to repeat the heroics of his first innings century, the ball catching the outside edge as he probed forward defensively.
His departure was the cause of great delight for Australian captain Tim Paine, after the pair had exchanged words at the conclusion of the third day.
The Australian wicketkeeper, looking for his first win as skipper in five Tests since taking over from the disgraced Steve Smith, celebrated the dismissal with a cheeky comment to not out batsman Murali Vijay.
“Murali, I know he’s your captain, but you can’t seriously like him as a bloke,” Paine said, in comments picked up by microphone.
Just two overs later Vijay was also on his way back to the pavilion, bowled off an inside edge by Lyon, who took two for 30.
The pair of wickets continued a fine match for Lyon, who picked up five in the Indian first innings to move into the top 25 all-time Test wicket-takers, currently on 333.
After Australia lost their last six wickets for 51 runs to be dismissed for 243, with Mohammed Shami claiming a career-best 6-56, India made a disastrous start to their run chase just before tea.
Opener KL Rahul didn’t survive long, falling to the fourth ball of the innings from Mitchell Starc for a duck.
Rahul attempted to pull the bat away and only succeeded in getting an inside edge onto his stumps.
Cheteshwar Pujara then feathered a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood on four, as India slumped to 13 for two.
Across the two teams, eight wickets fell for 68 runs between lunch and tea, as batting appeared to become very difficult due to variable bounce.
Australian number eight Pat Cummins was the chief victim of the pitch gremlins after lunch, when he was clean bowled for one by a Jasprit Bumrah delivery that kept very low off the wicket.
The home team had resumed at 190 for four after lunch, but Shami cleaned up the tail, removing Khawaja for 72 and Paine, on 37, with sharply rising deliveries.
The action of the second session was a far cry from the start of the day, when overnight batsman Khawaja and Paine had kept the Indian pacemen at bay until lunch.
Against some probing bowling from the Indian pace attack, the Australians played and missed regularly.
It was old-fashioned Test cricket and scoring was slow with just 58 runs for the first session, but India were unable to claim a wicket.
Khawaja had a definite slice of luck on 42, when he would have been run out by a direct hit by bowler Bumrah as he scurried through for a quick single.