Australia captain Michael Clarke decided against enforcing the follow-on at the Adelaide Oval after his Peter Siddle-inspired outfit overcame Virat Kohli’s maiden Test century to take total command of the fourth game against India.
On Australia Day, the hosts - who had amassed a mammoth 604 for seven declared - took a 332-run first-innings advantage after Siddle led the way with 5-49, overshadowing Kohli’s 116 in India’s 272 all out.
Australia slumped to 50 for three by stumps, but will nevertheless begin day four with a series whitewash looking all but assured.
With India resuming at 61 for two, the rot set in early as Sachin Tendulkar again failed to convert a promising start into a landmark and long-awaited 100th international hundred. On 25, he edged a Siddle leg-cutter to Ricky Ponting at second slip.
Two overs later, Siddle got rid of Gambhir for 34 with a superb ball which the left-handed opener fended to a diving Mike Hussey at gully. VVS Laxman and Kohli dug in but the former, on 18, nicked off-spinner Nathan Lyon to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
India staged a recovery after lunch with Wriddhiman Saha, playing in place of banned captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, supporting Kohli effectively.
Saha attacked at times, most notably with a slog-sweep for six off Lyon. Kohli, who had brought up his fifty with an attractive flick through midwicket off Ben Hilfenhaus, similarly deposited a Clarke long-hop over the midwicket rope with a fierce pull.
They looked set to bat throughout the afternoon session until Saha paid for shouldering arms to Ryan Harris with the second new ball, to be bowled for 35 and herald tea.
Siddle brought the match alive shortly after when he almost claimed his second Test hat-trick, first trapping a shuffling Ravichandran Ashwin in front.
Zaheer Khan showed little regard for the match situation or partner Kohli's pending milestone when he swung wildly and edged to Haddin for a golden duck. However, Ishant Sharma blocked out the hat-trick ball.
Kohli, who on 99 flashed at a couple of testing Siddle deliveries outside off stump before almost being run out, brought up his ton by pushing Siddle for two through the covers.
Ishant provided steady support until Hilfenhaus knocked over his off stump, on 16, and Kohli was the last man out when he missed a Hilfenhaus full toss to be trapped lbw.
David Warner and Ed Cowan put on 39 for Australia’s first wicket before three batsmen fell for the addition of one run, starting when Warner - on 28 - slapped a low return catch to Ashwin.
Shaun Marsh’s struggles continued with a duck, though he was unlucky to be adjudged lbw after being struck outside off stump by Zaheer Khan, and Cowan was then pinned plumb in front by Ashwin.
Clarke and Ponting, both double-centurions in the first innings, survived to the close.