Virat Kohli appeared on course to end his century drought as the top order batter made 88 not out to propel India to 362 for four in reply to Australia's first innings total of 480 in the fourth and final test on Sunday.
India lost Ravindra Jadeja in the morning but Kohli and KS Bharat, who was batting on 25, denied Australia another wicket in the slow-moving session on day four at the Narendra Modi Stadium.
After Cameron Green bowled the first over of the day, Australia opted for spin from both ends and Todd Murphy managed to break the 64-run partnership between Kohli and Jadeja.
Jadeja, who made 28, chipped the ball to Usman Khawaja at mid-on in the final of his several attempts to clear the fielders inside the ring.
Kohli dug his heel in and was happy to nudge the ball around, while Bharat hit Nathan Lyon for a six before putting his head down and accumulating runs without taking too many risks.
Kohli's last test hundred came against Bangladesh in November 2019, in what was the first day-night test in India.
For India, who lead the series 2-1, Shreyas Iyer could not come out to bat because of back pain and went for scans.