Chennai, Feb 25: India inched closer towards a comprehensive victory in the first cricket Test against Australia but debutant Moises Henriques delayed the inevitable with a fighting undefeated 75 on a difficult track to take the match into the fifth and final day.
Henriques followed up his first innings half century with another gutsy effort as he added 57 runs for the final wicket with No 11 Nathan Lyon (8 batting) to prevent India from wrapping up the match with a day to spare.
The duo consumed 18.1 overs to not only frustrate the hosts but also snatch a lead of 40 runs after Ravichandran Ashwin's second five wicket haul helped India decimate the Aussie top and middle-order.
Ashwin grabbed five for 90 and his current match haul of 12 wickets helped India reduce Australia to 175 for nine before Henriques-Lyon provided some rearguard action to ensure that the game went into the final day.
With pitch providing right kind of assistance for the spinners, senior-off spinner Harbhajan Singh also put up a much improved performance in the second innings scalping the important wickets of David Warner and Matthew Wade.
The duo were ably complemented by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who also helped the team with important breakthroughs.
The highlight of India's performance was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's magnificent 224 which enabled the home team to post a mammoth 572 in their first innings, thereby ensuring a lead of 192 runs.
The likes of Ed Cowan (32), Michael Clarke (31) and David Warner (23) tried their best but it was a near-impossible task to play a game of survival on a pitch that was deteriorating with the passage of every over.
Batting more than five sessions to save the Test match was a Herculean task but Shane Watson and Cowan showed intent during the first session.
Ashwin struck with the last ball before lunch. He invited Watson to play forwarded but ball took off the surface to hit the shoulder of his bat as Sehwag took the catch.
However the post lunch session spelt doom for the visitors as they lost four top-order batsmen during the session.