India were in control of the fourth and final Test on Saturday after Australia's uncharacteristically defensive batting marred their chance of forcing a series-levelling victory.
India Take Control In Nagpur
India celebrate the wicket of Shane Watson (front).
©REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe (INDIA) Picture Supplied by Action Images
The tourists needed a commanding first-innings score in a bid to avoid their first series defeat in three years but went defensive on day three after resuming on 189 for two.
India grabbed three wickets in the second session on Saturday after third-Test centurion Michael Clarke's dismissal for eight triggered a collapse and then bowled Australia out for 355 to secure an 86-run advantage.
The hosts were nought without loss at the close.
Brad Haddin (28) and Cameron White (46) fought hard before being dismissed by spinners Amit Mishra (2-58) and Harbhajan Singh (3-94).
Jason Krejza and Mitchell Johnson made five runs each while Brett Lee was unbeaten on one.
Australia, who fell behind 1-0 after losing the second test in Mohali by a record 320 runs, lost Clarke, Hussey and Shane Watson (two) in the space of 11 runs after resuming at 189 for two.
Opener Simon Katich, who kept the tourists in the hunt with his third-wicket stand of 155 with overnight partner Hussey, completed his fifth Test century.
Debutant off-spinner Krejza took eight wickets to give the visitors a fighting chance of levelling the series.
India's accurate bowling kept down Australia scoring rate as the visitors, looking to pile up a commanding first-innings score to force a result, managed only 91 runs in the day's first two sessions.
Left-arm speedster Zaheer Khan, who bowled a marathon 18 overs on Saturday, dismissed Katich lbw for 102 after changing ends before lunch.
Sharma, who bowled with tremendous control to a packed off-side field, was unlucky when Rahul Dravid at slip dropped Katich in the day's second over.
But the wiry pacer dismissed Clarke with a beauty, the ball straightening to square up the batsman and forcing him to edge to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
In-form Hussey who scored a century in the opening test and fifties in the other two drawn matches, was run out. Debutant Murali Vijay displayed admirable reflex action to effect the dismissal from silly point.
Watson fell to off-spinner Harbhajan Singh when the ball rolled on to the stumps after he had pushed at it.
India made 441 in their first innings with Sachin Tendulkar scoring his 40th Test century.
© Reuters / Cricket World 2008