Pat Cummins has admitted to being "pretty exhausted" after Australia's bowlers found themselves back in the field within 24 hours of India's first-innings declaration. No batsman made more than 22 in Australia's first-innings total of 151 and, after spending most of the first two days in the field, Cummins - who brought the MCG crowd to life with a late four-wicket burst - said he felt the effects of what had been a hard slog.

"Pretty tired after yesterday, pretty exhausted," Cummins said. "The good thing coming into this series was that I felt really fresh and the first two Tests didn't feel like I had a massive workload.

"So yeah, I feel tired but I haven't felt like this for a while so it's probably a pretty normal feeling to be honest.

"But hopefully not too many overs tomorrow and then we don't have to bowl last this game so hopefully a four- or five-day break before Sydney. But yeah, a bit tired but nothing too serious.

"[Tim] Painey asked me if I wanted another over and I said I know I've got four-for but I don't think I'm going to take a wicket out here."

At one point during his six-over spell in India's second innings, during which he took 4 for 10, Cummins was on a hat-trick. Bowling perfectly to plan, Cummins had both of India's top-scorers in the first innings - Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli - caught at leg gully and for a moment it seemed that Rohit Sharma would also fall to a catch in the same region. But the ball sailed past the fielder, around a metre out of Marcus Harris' reach.

"I just saw it go up somewhere near him so I was pretty excited but I think it was well, well out of reach," Cummins said. "I think he said, 'if I was a metre taller, maybe,' or something like that but it was wishful thinking I think."

Cummins has taken two hat-tricks, one in grade cricket and one in a second XI match, playing against a side featuring the Queensland batsman Joe Burns, who became his hat-trick scalp.

"Joe Burns was my third wicket," Cummins said. "I bowled a slower ball and he ducked underneath it and it was a full-toss and it hit the stumps on the full. So that was my favourite one."

Before Cummins' spell it had been a grim day for Australia. It may well prove to be the defining one for the series. Despite losing quick wickets, India still have five wickets in hand and a 346-run lead and, while there are a few showers forecast for days four and five, it leaves ample time for them to bowl Australia out once more. There has been little to suggest that Australia have the strength in batting to eke out a draw, let alone mount a record chase on a pitch that has proved difficult for batsmen to score on.

"I know when we went out there Painey said, 'Let's just try to make every run as hard as possible for them to get,'" Cummins said. "Obviously the longer we can take it the less we need to bat.

"But having them 5 for 50 now, I think the lead's just under 350, you never know. If you knock them over in the morning the wicket, it's still pretty good.

"It's hard to score runs but we saw last year we batted really well day four and five.

"You dare to dream but it's still a long way left in this game. But I think the good thing is for them to move the game forward, with five down, it's going to be a lot harder.

They're going to have to bat longer so, yeah, just try and take it as deep as possible."