Bangalore: Australia chasing a daunting 413-run victory target were 142/3 at lunch on the penultimate day of the third Test against India at WACA in Perth on Staurday.
The hosts added further 77 runs to their overnight score before losing a vital wicket of Ponting.
Michael Hussey (39) and Michael Clarke (11) remain unbeaten with the hosts still need 271 runs to keep Australia's bid for a world record 17 straight Test wins alive.
Young pacer Ishant bowled a probing spell of ten overs. His jagging deliveries have caused Aussie batsmen all sorts of problems and the 19-year-old will be a crucial factor as the wicket deteriorates further.
Resuming at 65/2 after Irfan Pathan snared Chris Rogers and Phil Jaques late on day three, Australia's day got off to a bright start courtesy of a pair of Ponting boundaries. Punter played some eye-catching punch shots of the back foot. The overnight batsmen added further 52 runs with ease in the first hour of first session of the day.
But Sharma's introduction in the fifth over of the morning put Australia firmly on the back foot.
The right-arm paceman looked sharp early, finding the edge of Hussey while also getting a delivery to jag back into Ponting's stomach after the Aussie captain failed to offer a shot.
Sharma continued to probe Ponting, who survived two confident lbw appeals on 34 with Sharma gaining terrific movement off the day-four pitch.
Hussey cut Pathan for four to bring up Australia's 100 in the 12th over of the morning but the home side was reduced to 123/3 when Ponting edged Sharma into the safe hands of Dravid at first slip, ending the 74-run stand.
Clarke and Hussey ensured no further damage going into lunch.
Brief Scores (at lunch, D-4):
India 330 and 294 Vs Australia 212&142/3 (Ponting 45, Hussey 39 n o, Clarke 11 n o; Pathan 2 for 33, Ishnat 1 for 41).