A heavy downpour frustrated Australia on day two of the fourth test decider in Brisbane on Saturday, with play abandoned after tea and India spared from resuming on 62/2 in reply to the home side's first innings 369.
India number three Cheteshwar Pujara was eightno, with stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane on two at the teabreak, before a storm broke over the GABBA.
With more rain forecast over the remaining days, Australia may have little time to bowl India out twice and seal the series 2-1.
Home captain Tim Paine showed his displeasure in an animated discussion with the umpires after they inspected the field and called off proceedings.
"No doubt disappointing to the spectators," Australia assistant coach Andrew McDonald told reporters.
"It would have been nice to get some play there - but the decision was made by the officials and that's their role."
India will have been more than happy to turn in early.
The tourists only need to draw the test to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, two years after their breakthrough 2-1 series win in Australia in 2018/19.
To emerge with a tied series would be a massive achievement for Rahane's side, which has battled a mounting injury toll throughout and lacked a single first-choice bowler to call on in Brisbane.
They are already a man down in their pace attack, with Navdeep Saini having suffered a groin injury on day one.
Australia, thwarted by India's wounded batsmen in the drawn test in Sydney, are likely to ponder another lost opportunity on day two, having resumed in the morning on 274/5.
Paine (50) and all-rounder Cameron Green (47) were in good shape to set a platform for a much bigger total, but surrendered in a collapse when three wickets fell in four runs.
Paine was caught in the slips by Rohit Sharma off paceman Shardul Thakur, with Green following after being bowled by all-rounder Washington Sundar, one of two test debutants in the Indian side.
Pat Cummins (2) became the third victim when trapped lbw by Thakur.
Playing his 100th test, Nathan Lyon soaked up the acclaim of the home crowd, pushing Australia past 350 before he was bowled by Sundar for 24 off 22 balls.
Starc chipped in a valuable unbeaten 20 before paceman T. Natarajan (3/78), the second of India's test debutants, but the pick of their bowlers, wrapped up the innings by bowling Josh Hazlewood for 11.
India's reply began shakily after lunch, with the relentless Pat Cummins having opener Shubman Gill caught in the slips for seven.
Rohit and Pujara built a 49-run partnership before the former threw away his wicket for 44 when he attacked Lyon and top-edged to Starc at long-on.
Rahane and Pujara then took no chances, adding only two runs to India's total in six overs to tea before the rain came.
"I thought we stuck to our plans," said Rohit.
"If we bat well tomorrow, you never know, anything can happen."