India held a narrow lead over Australia after the penultimate day of the fourth and final Test at the Adelaide Oval yesterday.
India were 45 for one at stumps in their second innings, a lead of eight runs after trailing Australia by 37 on the first innings.
Ricky Ponting (140), Michael Clarke (118) and Matthew Hayden (103) all scored centuries to steer Australia past India's first innings total of 526.
Irfan Pathan (3-112) and fellow paceman Ishant Sharma (3-115) captured three wickets each as the tourists polished off the last six Australian wickets for 73 runs after Ponting and Clarke had shared a record partnership of 210.
Ponting ended a lean run with the bat to chalk up his 34th Test hundred to join Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar in second place on the all-time list of centurymakers.
The only player to have scored more is India's Sachin Tendulkar, who completed his 39th hundred earlier in the match.
The Australian skipper brought up his hundred off 183 balls when he flicked spinner Harbhajan Singh off his pads for a single but batted with a runner after lunch when he began to experience back spasms.
He was dismissed when he deflected an inside edge off Virender Sehwag onto his stumps, ending a record fourth wicket stand with Clarke for Australia against India, breaking the previous mark of 178 set by Allan Border and Dean Jones in 1986.
Clarke survived a dropped catch from Rahul Dravid on 84 to bring up his sixth Test century before he was caught at second slip by V.V.S. Laxman off Sharma.
Adam Gilchrist could manage only 14 in his farewell appearance, while Brad Hogg was left stranded on 16 not out as he ran out of partners.
Gilchrist, who announced his retirement on Saturday, arrived at the crease to a standing ovation from the crowd and generous applause from the Indian players.
But he lasted just 21 minutes before driving a full toss from Pathan straight to Sehwag at cover, leaving the ground to another standing ovation in what was possibly his last Test innings.
India lost an early wicket when they started their second innings, Pathan trapped lbw by Johnson for a duck.
Sehwag reached stumps on 31 with Dravid on 11, leaving both teams needing something special on the last day to avert a draw.
Clarke said Australia would need all their quality to grab an unlikely victory.
"It's going to be hard, I think we're going to have to bowl really well," he said.