Shaun Marsh was run out for 99 attempting a desperate single before Australia declared on 318 for nine to bring lunch early and set India 384 to win the third test in Melbourne on Tuesday.
Marsh had patiently grafted for more than four and a half hours through the new ball on day four and then rain delays in the final morning, and had been given every chance to post his third test century and first on home soil.
But pinned down on the brink of a century for five balls by paceman Umesh Yadav, he had a moment of madness, rushing through for a single after poking a shot in close, which Virat Kohli swooped on and flung down the stumps from a few metres away.
That ended a 215-ball knock which had guided Australia to safety late on day four, and Marsh trudged off with head bowed.
Josh Hazlewood joined Nathan Lyon out in the middle for a few balls but coach Darren Lehmann finally ran out of patience and waved his team in to bring an early lunch.
Australia have 70 overs to bowl India out and the tourists will have to set a record to chase down the target.
The highest successful run-chase at the MCG was in 1928-29 when England made 332 for victory but with Australia 2-0 up in the series and needing only draw to seal it, the tourists were in no hurry to declare.
Rain delays added another variable, with the session suspended for nearly an hour due to two separate showers, the first after just three balls and the second a little over an hour before lunch.
Marsh and number nine Ryan Harris resumed on 261-7, and appeared more keen to bat for time than keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Harris was eventually out for 21 off 68 balls, caught behind by India captain and wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni off the bowling of Mohammed Shami.
Ravichandran Ashwin dropped a caught-and-bowled chance off Marsh and the 31-year-old duly hit a six over his head, a slog sweep for four and another two to wide long on to march to 98.
But nerves got the better of him of 99, souring an otherwise important knock for the hosts.