Australia were pressing hard for victory over India at lunch on the final day of the first Test, reducing the home side to a nervy 2-41 in pursuit of 299 in Bangalore.

After adding 35 runs in five overs in the morning, the Australians gave themselves a minimum 83 overs in which to bowl the Indians out.

They accounted for Virender Sehwag (six) and Rahul Dravid (five) thanks to a pair of fine catches by Matthew Hayden and captain Ricky Ponting.

Paceman Stuart Clark (1-11) and Brett Lee (1-18) both looked dangerous on a pitch offering plenty of lateral and vertical movement due to a patchwork of cracks.

As has so often been the case, much depends on Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar (16no), who in addition to the task of saving his side requires 64 runs to surpass Brian Lara as the leading runscorer in Tests.

India are seeking the highest fourth-innings total in all Tests in Bangalore, and the second-highest fourth-innings chase in Indian history, behind only the 403 they managed against the West Indies at Trinidad in 1976.

The tourists declared at 6-228 this morning, losing Shane Watson (41) in the second over to Ishant Sharma (3-40) before Brad Haddin (35no) and Cameron White (18no) batted swiftly to allow the tourists to rapidly build the lead before Ponting called them in.

Australia’s defence of the target began in an ordinary fashion when Haddin, who has not had a good match behind the stumps, dropped a snick from Sehwag off Lee.

Fortunately for Haddin and the Australians, Sehwag was to last only one more ball.

Clark claimed Sehwag’s outside edge when the batsman tried to flick to leg and was caught by Hayden low at slip.

A better take would account for Dravid, as Ponting intercepted a firm legside push with a flying dive at shortish midwicket.

Tendulkar took his time to get into stride, while at the other end Gautam Gambhir (12no) flirted with danger.

One delivery from Clark was periously close to having him lbw not offering a shot, and Gambhir was a fraction of a second from being run out in the same play when Haddin’s underarm hit the stumps as the batsman wandered outside his crease.

There had been drama from the first ball of the morning, when a Haddin drive was dropped by Kumble, who then required treatment for a cut to his already-taped left thumb.

He immediately withdrew himself from the attack, to complete only the third wicketless Test of an international career that began in 1990.