Part-time offspinner Virender Sehwag took three crucial wickets Friday as India maintained its dominance over Australia, which registered 338-4 at stumps on the third day of the third test.

Sehwag, who was bowling instead of the injured Anil Kumble, broke through late in the day to remove Michael Hussey after ending the strong resistance of Ricky Ponting (picture) and Matthew Hayden.

Australia’s batsmen fought to stay in touch with India, but were left with plenty to do over the remaining two days to save the game and stay alive in the four-match series.

Hussey collected 53 before being bowled by Sehwag after Ponting, Hayden and Simon Katich made useful half-centuries to prevent a disaster in reply to the host’s imposing 613-7.

At stumps, Australia was still 74 runs short of avoiding the possibility of a follow-on – with vice-captain Michael Clarke (21) partnered by Shane Watson (4).

Sehwag filled in admirably for Kumble and captured 3-66 from 22 overs while Amit Mishra, who knocked out Katich’s middle stump, tested the batsmen during his 1-95 from 30.

Kumble dropped Hayden at short-midwicket off Mishra in the middle session, with the ball striking his left hand and splitting the webbing between his third and fourth fingers. The captain quickly departed for treatment and did not return before stumps.

Hayden and Katich set up the tourists’ reply with a 123-run opening stand in the morning session to give them hope of challenging India’s total.

Katich added 64 and Hayden broke free from a form slump to post an important 83 from 154 balls before Ponting and Hussey chipped in during productive partnerships.

Ponting gained his 41st test half-century and fought hard for 87 -shelving a lot of his usual attacking shots against the tight bowling -but he slipped when trying to drive a fuller ball from Sehwag. The dismissal ended Ponting’s 82-run partnership with Hussey and left Australia at 284-3.

Hayden, who scored just 42 runs in the first four innings of the series, was struck in the helmet by Zaheer Khan’s opening ball and also received a blow in the shoulder during the first over.

The veteran opener recovered and struck 13 fours, and a pulled six off Mishra, before he was adjudged lbw playing back to Sehwag, reducing Australia to 202-2.

Play was held up two balls into the second session when a swarm of bees caused the players and umpires to lie on the ground for a couple of minutes until the threat passed.

India had another setback before play when match referee Chris Broad told opener Gautam Gambhir he would be suspended for the fourth test in Nagpur because of his physical confrontation with Australian bowler Shane Watson on the first day.