A majestic century from Cheteshwar Pujara kept India on course to chase down Australia’s impressive first-innings total of 451 on the third day of the third Test as the hosts reached a total of 303/4 at Tea.

Pujara (109*) and Karun Nair (13) were batting at the end of the second session, in which Indian captain Virat Kohli (6) and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane (14) were the two wickets to fall as the hosts trail Steve Smith’s men by 148 runs.

Kohli, marking his return from injury after straining his shoulder while fielding on day one, didn't last long, edging a delivery from pacer Pat Cummins to Australian captain Steve Smith at second slip.

Scans on Kohli’s shoulder had shown a minor injury and whether it was affecting his game is uncertain, but the fact remains that he is in the middle of a slump by his own high standards

Rahane came out next and started off on an aggressive note, hitting a few boundaries but his approach backfired spectacularly as he tried to hit a bouncer from Cummins, edging the delivery to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade instead.

The Pujara-Rahane partnership, which had been crucial in the second Test, went past the 50-run mark fairly quickly and just as the visitors were beginning to look a little frustrated, Rahane literally gifted his wicket to spark hopes of a batting collapse.

Nair joined Pujara in the middle and the right-handed duo ensured India went into the break without any more casualties.

Earlier in the day, opener Murali Vijay (82) and Pujara had played well to aid India post 193/2 in reply to Australia's 451 at lunch.

Left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe (1/67) was the only visiting bowler to find any joy in the morning, taking the wicket of Vijay (82 off 183) who missed the ball completely and was promptly stumped by wicketkeeper Mathew Wade.

For the visitors, Cummins was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3/49 while O'Keefe took the lone wicket of Vijay.

Brief Scores: Australia first innings: 451 vs India first innings 303/4 (Cheteshwar Pujara 109 not out, Murali Vijay 82, Patt Cummins 3/49).