ADELAIDE: Opener Aaron Finch fell just before tea as Australia stuttered in a record run chase at Adelaide Oval Sunday after India set them 323 to win the first Test.
India amassed 307 in their second innings with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane smashing 70 and first innings century-maker Cheteshwar Pujara a composed 71.
A late collapse got the crowd on their feet and gave Australia a glimmer of hope, with India’s last four wickets falling for just four runs.
Spinner Nathan Lyon was the pick of the bowlers, taking six wickets for 122 runs off 42 overs. It was his 13th five-wicket haul in Tests. Mitchell Starc snared 3 for 40.
Australia were 28 for 1 at tea with Finch — who survived being given out lbw second ball when a review showed Ishant Sharma had overstepped the crease — making just 11 in his second failure of the match.
Debutant Marcus Harris was unbeaten on 14 with Usman Khawaja due in next, and Australia needing to make history to win.
The only successful fourth innings Test run chase of more than 300 at Adelaide came in 1902, when the hosts made 315 to beat England.
The biggest on the ground in modern times was 239 in 1982, when the West Indies managed the feat.
They will be encouraged, though, by Western Australia in a domestic match last month hitting 313 to beat South Australia here with Shaun Marsh — who is playing in the Test — scoring 163 not out.
Play started 30 minutes early to make up for rain disruptions on Saturday, with Australia desperate for an early breakthrough to build on the momentum after Virat Kohli fell to Lyon near the close on day three.
But two fours from the composed Pujara off Josh Hazlewood in the second over of the day set the tone.
The right-hander brought up 50 — his 20th in Tests — with a three off Lyon and hardly looked troubled until the off-spinner fooled him half an hour before lunch and Finch caught him off bat and pad.
It was a crucial 87-run partnership with Rahane, who survived a bat-pad catch decision off Lyon on review. The vice-captain rubbed salt in the wound by smacking the next ball for four and brought up his 16th half-century with another boundary.
He was eventually out going for a reverse sweep off Lyon, with Starc picking up the catch.
The aggressive Rishabh Pant went in search of quick runs as India’s lead approached 300, whacking three fours and a six in succession off one Lyon over.
When the wicketkeeper-batsman went for another big hit next delivery and fell for 28 off just 16 balls, it prompted a collapse from 282 for 5 to 307 all out.