India duo Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma snared a wicket apiece to halt Australia's hopes of getting quick runs on day four of the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar series.
Zaheer had also bludgeoned an unbeaten 57 in the morning session to all but end Australia's chances of victory at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
His heroics with the bat left India with a deficit of only 70 runs to Australia's first-innings score of 430 as the hosts were bowled out for 360.
Runs have not been easy to come by on this pitch and the tourists lost Matthew Hayden (13) and first-innings centurion Ricky Ponting (17) as they crawled to 72 for two at tea.
Michael Hussey, who also notched a ton in the opening innings, was still at the crease on 12 with opener Simon Katich on 21 at the interval.
Hayden had lacked the fluency which has characterised his batting with the burly left-hander scratching around for 13 runs before walking across to a delivery that was angled in from Ishant. Hayden was rapped on the pads and umpire Asad Rauf upheld the appeal for leg before.
It had been left to Mahendra Singh Dhoni to address the India huddle when they came out to field in the second innings with regular skipper Anil Kumble feeling the ill-effects of a rotator-cuff injury.
Dhoni spread the field while Hayden was batting, but there were three men around the bat - apart from the lone slip in Rahul Dravid - when Ponting walked in to take strike.
Ponting's nemesis, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, had already been in operation for sometime and he spun a couple past the edge of the Australia captain.
But it was Ishant who sent Ponting back to the pavilion, getting him to play at an angled delivery. Ponting's push on the on-side flew to VVS Laxman who held a low, sharp catch at short mid-wicket.