At the break, Mathhew Hayden was unbeaten on 46 runs and giving him company was Mike Hussey on 14 runs, still needing a further 271 runs to win the match with seven second innings wickets in hand.
Australian hopes for a victory seem to have faded and they now face the uphill task of surviving the last two Tests to draw the match.
Beginning the day at 13 for no loss, Australia once again saw India use a packed off side field for their pace bowlers with Dhoni employing a 8-1 off side field for Katich, while for Hayden it was a 7-2 field.
The move paid off soon for the Indians, when Simon Katich tried to loft Ishant Sharma through the vacant leg side area only to get a top edge. The ball ballooned sky-high with Dhoni coming under it to take a well judged catch. Australia were 29 for one with Katich making 16 with three boundaries in the knock.
Australia should have been 29-2 in the next over itself when Zaheer Khan induced the edge from the visiting captain Ricky Ponting, which was however dropped by Rahul Dravid at first slip as the ball raced to the boundary for Ponting to open his account.
Ponting then showed his class with a wristy flick of his toes to the mid wicket fence of a full pitched up delivery which was drifting towards the leg stump for Ponting to take full advantage. Ponting, however, was out in the same over when he played Zaheer to mid-off and set off for a run.
Amit Mishra, however, pounced on the ball and with an underarm throw threw down the wickets with Ponting still a long way from the crease. The Aussie captain made eight with two boundaries and the visitors were 37 for 2 and in deep trouble.
Michael Clarke, the new man in came in with a runner as he was not feeling 100 per cent fit. He should have been out immediately when he was trapped in front by Ishant Sharma, but umpire Billy Bowden negated the appeal with the replays, however, showing the ball would have crashed in middle and leg stump.
Matthew Hayden at the other end was just about surviving and should have been dismissed when Dhoni dropped him behind the stumps of Harbhajan Singh in the offie's first over as Hayden tried to cut Harbhajan but the edge was put down.
Hayden using this opportunity then played a cheecky reverse paddle sweep to the fence of Harbhajan. Australia soon lost their third wicket as Clarke could not take advantage of the umpiring error, when he played away from his body to a delivery from Ishant for the ball to take the edge with Dhoni this time making no mistake.
Clarke made 22 with three boundaries leaving the visitors on 82 for three.
Michael Hussey then joined Hayden and the two took the Australians to lunch without any further loss.