After bowling Australia out for 294 halfway through the final session on day four of the crucial fourth Test at the Gabba on Monday, India will need to score 328 runs for victory or bat all day for a draw.
As rain clouds emerged over the ground, Mohammad Siraj had Josh Hazlewood trapped on the boundary to end the Australian innings.
Just 11 balls were faced by Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill then, hitting four without defeat, before light rain started to fall and play was called off for the day.
Throughout Monday, Siraj and fellow fast Shardul Thakur were outstanding as they maintained the Australian scoring rate largely under check while taking wickets at regular intervals.
While most of the Australian batting order started, only Steve Smith converted and, when shocked by a short Thakur strike, he dropped for 55.
To reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Australia must prevail, but with more rain expected for Tuesday, India will fancy their chances of survival for the draw they need to retain the silverware.
The 236 Australia scored to defeat the West Indies in 1951 is the fastest run chase to victory at the Gabba.
But they are never out of the game, as India has shown after their catastrophic capitulation in the first test in Adelaide when they were bowled out for 36.
They returned and won the Melbourne Boxing Day Test, then struggled for more than a day to win the third test in Sydney.
On Tuesday, Smith said off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who is playing his 100th Test and wants three more scalps to cross 400 Test wickets, could play a major role.
“Outside the right-handers’ off stump, there’s a nice crack forming that he’ll be looking to aim at,” Smith said.
There’s definitely no reason why he can’t build any chances on a day-five wicket if he strikes good places regularly tomorrow, that’s for sure.
The game is in a good position for us,” he added, “the wicket is beginning to play some tricks.
“A few balls shot up today, so tomorrow it’s going to be a case of hitting the right areas and letting the natural variation of a five-day wicket do its job, and hopefully we can hang on to the chances.”
India would believe, however, that at least they can save the Test against an Australian attack that looked exhausted in the first innings.
In the morning session, India took four wickets to peg back a flying start by the Australians with some bad bowling taken advantage of by David Warner and Marcus Harris.
The Australian openers added 68 runs off 19 overs when Harris dropped for 38 with the score on 89 when he attempted to duck a Thakur short ball only for the ball to graze his glove on the way to Rishabh Pant’s wicketkeeper.
It created a mini-collapse when two runs later, Washington Sundar’s debutant trapped Warner lbw for 48, the highest score of the Australian opener since his comeback in Sydney from a groyne strain in the third test.
First innings century-maker Marnus Labuschagne came to the crease and started to strike, blasting five boundaries on his way to a quickfire 25 before a Siraj delivery straightened him up and edged an easy catch at second slip to Sharma.
Siraj, who was costly in his early overs, then had Matthew Wade caught three balls later to leave Australia 123 for four behind down the leg side for a duck.
Then, although both had let-offs, Smith and Cameron Green started to pull the game away from the tourists.
Smith was dropped by Siraj on 38 at long-off though Green escaped a caught and bowled on 14 by the same bowler.
But Siraj, who took 5-73, made amends when, with the former Australian captain on 55, he got one to jump into Smith’s glove, while Thakur went on to finish with 4-61 as he accounted for the Green, Tim Paine and Nathan Lyon wickets.