India managed to do something that has looked near impossible in this series -- get Steven Smith out early -- but that control factor is firmly in Australia's camp at the end of a rain-hit Day 4 of the 3rd Test in Melbourne.
The bowlers toiled away pretty admirably on the still flat pitch at the MCG, but with that lead to play with and India to bat on the final day, Australia, courtesy half-centuries from Chris Rogers and Shaun Marsh, eased to 261/7 in 75 overs, after a steady drizzle stopped play in Melbourne for an hour and a half.
The home team's lead of 326 runs -- which might be that, if Australia decide to declare overnight -- means India have a couple of rabbits to pull out of the hat on Day 5. If Australia do declare and set that target of 327, then India will need to decide if they are going to go for broke and try and level the series or try and bat out the day to keep the series deficit at 2-0.
If Australia choose to bat on the next day, though -- which is also a likely scenario -- all India can do is hope to take those final three wickets quickly and then take it from there.
Australia, undoubtedly, have the majority of the aces in the pack in their side at the moment, even if India sent that can-take-the-match-away-in-the-blink-of-an-eye batsman -- David Warner -- packing early enough, after Mitchell Johnson finished off the Indian tail quickly on Day 4 morning.
Everything started to plan for Australia with Warner getting off to a blazing start, before the left-hander's wicket derailed the momentum just that little bit, but not even remotely enough to allow India to call the shots in this see-sawing third Test match.
Rogers and Shane Watson took Australia to Lunch on 90 for one in 22 overs, an overall lead of 155 runs, after India were dismissed for 465 early in the morning to concede a first innings lead of 65, before rain came falling down to delay the start of the second session.
Once play finally resumed after a few games of hide and seek between the sun and the rain, Rogers and Watson looked to pick up from where they had left off, only for Ishant Sharma to show some fight.
Ishant (19-4-49-2) first found the edge of Rogers in the first over after resumption, with Shikhar Dhawan snatching the catch away from R Ashwin to drop it in the process, before the lanky fast bowler sent Watson (17, 34b, 1x4) on his way via another outside edge which MS Dhoni completed this time.
Smith came in and you immediately thought this was tailor-made for him -- get settled, and then take off like only he can to take that lead beyond India, but, for once, he actually got out, with most fans at the ground rubbing their eyes just to make sure what they had seen was actually real!
It was one of those leg-slip fields that Dhoni so likes, which worked, with Umesh Yadav, who bowled rubbish all day, bowling one down the leg side and Smith (14, 27b, 2x4) flicking it straight to Ajinkya Rahane -- Yadav (14-1-73-2) would take another bonus wicket down the leg side later in the day as well.
However, the lead was nearly 200 at that point and Rogers (69, 123b, 8x4) and Marsh added a few more, before the latter fell to the excellent Ashwin, who saw his good bowling rewarded when the left-hander played one on to his stumps.
Marsh and Joe Burns then took Australia to Tea, with another long session to come, which, yet again, saw India bowl with discipline, with plenty of wickets coming their way as well.
Burns (9, 17b) was the early casualty of the final session, outside edging one off Ishant, before Brad Haddin and Marsh looked to rebuild the innings. However, after a 26-run partnership in nearly ten overs, when India bowled in that channel outside off consistently, Haddin (13, 27b) was dismissed by Yadav via that ball down the leg side.
In came Johnson (15, 27b, 2x4) to a rousing welcome from Virat Kohli, and after a couple of typically hefty blows, out he walked, with a short ball, a surprise one this time, actually doing the trick as he mistimed a pull off Mohammed Shami (20-2-75-1).
Australia were on 234/7 at Johnson's wicket, a lead of 299, which was then pushed well beyond 300 by Marsh (62 n.o., 131b, 8x4, 1x6), far from assured, but showing plenty of fight to just hang in there, and Ryan Harris (8 n.o., 27b).
Earlier, Warner, who has been off the field for large chunks of this Test match through injury picked up while batting on the practice wickets, provided Australia the start the home team would have wanted, marching them on at a good clip to bulge that lead further.
The left-hander struck 40 in just 42 balls (6x4) -- there were a couple of streaky boundaries in there as well -- while putting on 57 for the opening wicket with Chris Rogers. However, Warner could not carry on and complete his half-century and a hundred after that, with Ashwin coming to the fore with his off-spin on a Day 4 wicket.
To be honest, though, Ashwin (22-2-56-2) wasn't getting too much spin, but the 28-year-old kept bowling in decent areas, seeing a decent appeal for an lbw to send Rogers packing turned down by the umpire, before another ball that just slipped through the defences saw him pick up that first wicket.
It was Warner, who was this time struck on the pads, with the ball just sneaking past the inside edge of the bat courtesy a bit of drift and hitting him right in front of the wicket. Warner did not look happy at the raising of that index finger from umpire Richard Kettleborough, but it was definitely a good decision.
Shane Watson, under pressure to put up a big score, came in and saw off the rest of the session comfortably enough, with Rogers, before India picked up a few wickets in the next two sessions.
In the morning, India's batting did not last long -- just a little over two overs -- with the final two wickets adding only three extra runs.
Johnson, all fired up after that heated Virat Kohli press conference, picked up both the wickets, first dismissing Umesh Yadav for a duck off a delivery that rose and found the outside edge through to Brad Haddin.
Mohammed Shami (12, 30b, 1x4) then edged one to Steven Smith in the slips a couple of overs later and that was all she wrote as far as the India first innings was concerned.