SYDNEY — India was 73-1 at lunch on Saturday, needing 276 runs for an improbable victory against Australia on the fifth day of the fourth test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Australia stand-in captain Steve Smith declared the hosts' second innings at 251-6 prior to the start of the fifth day, setting the visitors 349 runs to win — a target beyond the highest successful fourth-innings run chase at the SCG of 288, achieved by Australia against South Africa in 2006.
India lost Lokesh Rahul for 16 in the first hour, caught at leg slip off Nathan Lyon (1-45).
Murali Vijay (35 not out) and Rohit Sharma (19 not out) found scoring difficult, adding only 25 in 15.4 overs after the loss of Rahul, but importantly for the visitors survived through to lunch.
The odds of its first victory in Australia since 2008 are stacked against the visitors with the difficulty of batting last on the SCG's turning pitch becoming evident as spinner Nathan Lyon extracted varying bounce in the first session.
Lyon deceived Rahul with that extra bounce as the first innings centurion was hit on the gloves with the ball looping to David Warner at leg slip.
On the next ball, Rohit Sharma survived a stumping from Lyon with the television umpire adjudging the batsman had part of his foot behind the crease before wicketkeeper Brad Haddin dislodged the bails.
On Friday, Smith made 71 off 70 balls late on day four and surpassed Don Bradman's record of most runs in an Australia-India series, as the hosts scored 213 runs in the final session in an attempt to conjure a victory in a match that seemed destined for a draw.
Chris Rogers made 56 — his sixth straight half century — and Joe Burns smashed 66 off 39 balls, including three sixes.
The hosts have an unassailable 2-0 series lead, and regained the Border-Gavaskar trophy, with two wins and a draw in the first three tests.