PERTH:An impressive opening spell by Irfan Pathan rocked Australia's bid for a world record 17th successive win in the third Test against India at the WACA on Friday.
The home side are chasing 413 to win after the Indian tail wagged to lift their side's second innings total to 294 on the third day here.
Pathan, an onlooker for the first two Tests, removed openers Chris Rogers (15) and Phil Jaques (16) in his opening spell with impressive late swing.
Rogers, who has had a tough debut, making just four in the first innings, was caught behind, while Jaques lived dangerously before guiding an outswinger straight to Wasim Jaffer at gully.
At stumps Australia were 65 for two, still needing a further 348 to win, with Ricky Ponting on 24 and Mike Hussey on five.
Only once before in Test history has a team scored more to win in the fourth innings of a Test, when the West Indies made 418 for seven against Australia in Antigua in 2003.
The previous best at the WACA was Australia's 342 for eight against India back in 1977, in the first Test between the two countries at the venue.
Australia have not been beaten since losing to England at Trent Bridge in August, 2005 and have not lost a home Test since December 2003, against India in Adelaide.
It was also India who snapped Australia's previous record 16-Test winning streak when they notched a memorable victory after following-on 274 runs behind in Kolkata in 2001.
VVS Laxman was the hero on that occasion with a double century and his fighting 79 in India's second innings enabled the tourists to recover from 160 for six and set the Australians such a challenging target.
He received good late support from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, with 38, and number 10 RP Singh, who made an invaluable 30.
Pathan, who came in as nightwatchman towards close of play on Thursday, also made an important contribution with a battling 46.
Laxman has been a thorn in Australia's side throughout his career.
He averages nearly 60 in Australia in Test cricket and his overall average against the world's top team is 51.76 compared with a career average of 44.40.
He was not at his fluid best Friday and was dropped on 59 off the bowling of Brett Lee, but stuck at his task and only fell when he chanced his arm with number 11 Ishant Sharma at the other end.
Laxman was at the crease for 230 minutes, faced 156 balls and hit eight fours.
India had started the day in control and leading by 170 runs with nine wickets in hand, but lost four quick wickets as Australia fought back.
Nagging seamer Stuart Clark (4-61) started the Australian fightback by dismissing Virender Sehwag for 43.
The recalled opener missed a straight delivery, which brushed his pads before crashing into the stumps.
India were 79 for two and Lee's renaissance then continued when he claimed two vital wickets.
Lee (3-54) snared the prized scalp of Rahul Dravid, who feathered a catch through to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist on three.
Sachin Tendulkar and Pathan then steadied the innings, before Lee trapped the former LBW when he missed with an attempt to turn the ball off his pads on 13.
When Mitchell Johnson, who proved expensive, had Sourav Ganguly caught at first slip for a duck, India had slumped to 125 for five, and had lost four wickets for just 46 runs.
Pathan and Laxman then saw the Indians through to lunch, but the nightwatchman's vigilant knock ended just after the resumption, caught by Ricky Ponting at first slip.
India were 160 for five, but Laxman and Dhoni (38) put on 75, before Dhoni tried to steer an Andrew Symonds off-spinner to fine leg, got a top edge and was caught by a diving Gilchrist.
RP Singh and Laxman frustrated the Australians to add 51 runs for the ninth wicket, before Clark produced a perfect delivery to have the tail-ender caught behind.
Australia lead the four-match series 2-0 and have already retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.