Chennai: Michael Clarke notched up his 23rd Test century and led a brilliant fightback by Australia on day one of the first Test after Ashwin had picked up six wickets and rocked the Aussies top order.
Australia were 316 for 7 at stump on opening day.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja struck in successive overs to give India massive breakthroughs as they removed Moises Henriques and Mitchell Starc respectively.
Henriques shone with the bat on his Test debut as he scored half-century to frustrate India after Clarke led from the front as he scored much-needed half-century to help Australia resurrect.
Clarke and Henriques stitched 151-run stand for the sixth wicket to turn the momentum in Australia's way after the visitors were stuttering at 153/5 at one stage.
Earlier, off-spinner R Ashwin ran through the Australian middle-order for a five-wicket haul before Clarke and Moises Henriques batted patiently to take the visitors to 215 for five at tea.
Ashwin added three quick wickets in the post-lunch session to reduce Australia to 153 for five but Clarke and debutant Henriques denied India any further leverage, handling the spin attack quite confidently.
Clarke brought in all his experience of playing in the sub-continent as his footwork was splendid while negotiating the turning balls.
He got good support from Henriques, who did not fear to play chip shots by stepping out to spinners, never allowing Indians to dominate or take advantage of a fast wearing track.
Australia added 89 runs in the session while India took three wickets, all claimed by Ashwin.
Ashwin yet again was the most impressive of the Indian spinners as his bowling had all the ingredients -- turn, bounce and zip -- to trouble the batsmen.
All his three victims were trapped before the wicket as he dismissed Shane Watson (28) David Warner (59) and wicket-keeper Matthew Wade (12).
The three strikes in a space of 10 overs pegged Australia back as they had started the second session on a healthy 126 for two but Clarke and Henriques remain unseparated after that, sharing a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Clarke was lucky to stay at the wicket as umpire Kumar Dharamsena turned down a close-catch appeal off Ashwin, 10 minutes into the tea break.
TV replays suggested that the batsman had indeed edged the ball before it flew into the hands of forward short-leg fielder. He was on 39 at that time.
As in the first session, Ashwin yet again struck of India as he sent back Watson and Warner in successive overs.
Watson was trapped in the fourth ball of the second session and Warner departed when Ashwin returned for his second over. When he dismissed Wade, Ashwin had claimed his sixth five-wicket haul (5/51).
Harbhajan Singh, playing his 100th Test, bowled nine overs in the second session but went wicket-less.
Ravindra Jadeja also bowled nine overs but he hardly troubled either Clarke or Henriques.
Earlier, electing to bat after winning the toss, the Aussies sailed along smoothly for almost 15 overs before opener Ed Cowan was stumped following a 29-run knock.
Soon after, in the 19th over, one-down batsman Phil Hughes (6) was clean-bowled by Ashwin.
However, the aggressive Warner and the ever-reliable Watson combined to ensure that the Aussies went to lunch with an upperhand.
On a track which Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni expected to turn from the first day itself, the hosts employed spin just 22 minutes into the match.
Harbhajan bowled in tandem but the former was distinctly ineffective against a team, which he calls his favourite given his past record against it.
The pacers -- Ishant Sharma and debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar -- have shared just 11 overs between them so far. Of the two, Bhuvneshwar seemed more impressive, managing a maiden and conceding 22 runs in his five overs even though he could not get a wicket.
Australia 316 for 7 (Clarke 103*, Henriques 68, Warner 59, Ashwin 6-88)