India’s stubborn resistance and a review verdict that rankled Nathan Lyon have stalled Australia’s push for victory at the Gabba, where the tourists reached 1-83 at lunch on the final day of the four-Test series.
After tea, in the final session, India require a further 139 runs to complete what would be a record-breaking chase at the venue.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s vigil (eight from 90 balls) suggests they are not focusing on the target of 328, set late on day four of the series-deciding fourth Test after Australia were bowled out for 294.
But fellow unbeaten batsman Shubman Gill scored relatively freely and looked remarkably comfortable in a fluent knock of 64.
Tim Paine’s team require a victory to reclaim the Border-Gavaskar trophy, while India will extend their four-year hold of the silverware with a draw or win.
The result will also have a major impact on the world Test championship standings, which Australia top as they bid to take part in this year’s final at Lord’s.
Pat Cummins delivered the scalp of Rohit Sharma in an impressive opening spell of 1-4 that spanned six overs.
Cummins worked over Pujara during his second spell, landing several body blows plus a knock to the helmet that resulted in a concussion assessment, but couldn’t conjure another breakthrough.
Pujara and 21-year-old Gill, among many debutants to have impressed during this series, were otherwise largely in control during an unbeaten 65-run stand.
The other notable exception came when Paine, having held a diving catch to dismiss Sharma, almost immediately reviewed an lbw shout during Lyon’s first over of the day.
Pujara was on two at the time.
The ball-tracker indicated it was likely hitting leg stump but graded the impact to be ‘umpire’s call’, as per the Decision Review System (DRS) rules that state at least half of the ball must be hitting the woodwork for a not-out verdict to be overturned.
Lyon and teammates reacted with shock, knowing the barest of margins could make a big difference to the result of the series.
India may have felt a sense of relief but also justice, with pundits querying whether Pujara was wrongly judged to have not played a shot.
The rain radar delivered good news for the hosts after storms hammered Brisbane overnight.
There were fears that wet weather could ruin Tuesday’s conclusion to an epic series but play started as scheduled at 9.30am (local time).
There is growing hope there will be few interruptions, if any, as umpires try to squeeze in the maximum possible 98 overs on day five.
Warne’s Lyon spray
Meanwhile, a fired-up Shane Warne has been left stumped by the negative tactics employed when Nathan Lyon’s bowling as the Australia spinner’s long wait for 400 Test wickets continues.
Stuck on 397 scalps in his 100th Test, Lyon has taken seven wickets for the series entering the final day of the four-Test showdown.
The offspinner is averaging more than 60 with a strike rate edging towards 140, which is higher than in any previous home Test series.
Lyon was unlucky not to nab Cheteshwar Pujara’s wicket in his first over on Tuesday, Australia retaining their review of an unsuccessful LBW appeal that had slightly less than half the ball hitting the top of leg stump.
But it was otherwise frustrating viewing for Warne, who couldn’t understand why the there wasn’t a fielder under Pujara’s nose on the off-side.
He said with the security blanket of a Gabba-record run chase ahead of India that Australia’s field settings had been too negative.
“I’m just staggered … just cannot believe it,” Warne said on Fox Sports.
“I’m in shock; it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
“I don’t have an answer, I just cannot explain why he hasn’t got one because he knows how it changes his (Pujara’s) game, so why on earth would you not have one?
“I’d like to think I know a little bit about spin bowling and I have chatted to Nathan Lyon about it.
“He’s admitted it works, but he hasn’t got one today.”