MELBOURNE, Jan 18 (IANS): Australia registered their second victory in the One-Day International (ODI) tri-series, beating India by four wickets with an over to spare at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) Sunday.
India posted 267 for eight -- thanks to Rohit Sharma's 138 -- but Australia, buoyed by Aaron Finch (96), Steven Smith (47), and Shane Watson (41), scored 269 for six in 49 overs.
The match saw an intense finish as Mohammad Shami removed Smith in the 40th over and Finch edged an Umesh Yadav delivery to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as Australia struggled in the latter part of their innings.
Three overs later, skipper George Bailey (5) and Glenn Maxwell (20) lost their wickets to give away the advantage.
The 46th over produced no runs and helped India exert further pressure on the Australian lower-order.
But the calmness of experienced wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin (not out 13) and young all-rounder James Faulkner (not out 9) saw the hosts record their successive win after beating England in the first ODI.
Indian bowlers looked rusty and toothless at the begining, giving away easy runs. Australian batsmen clearly dominated the game till the late drama.
Pacer Umesh Yadav picked up two wickets for 55 and Ravichandran Ashwin, Axar Patel, Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took a wicket each.
Earlier, opening batsman Rohit notched his sixth hundred to lift India to 267 for eight.
Rohit hit nine fours and four sixes and strung together a crucial 126-run partnership for the fourth wicket with left-hander Suresh Raina (51).
India got off to a poor start, losing opener Shikhar Dhawan (2) in the first over. The left-hander offered a catch to Aaron Finch off the bowling of pacer Mitchell Starc.
Right-hander Ajinkya Rahane (12) also lost his wicket cheaply, edging debutant Gurinder Sandhu's delivery to wicketkeeper Haddin.
Starc made further inroads into the Indian batting line-up as vice-captain Virat Kohli (9) offered a catch to host skipper George Bailey which left the visitors reeling at 59 for three in 12.5 overs.
Then, Raina joined Rohit at the crease to stabilise the innings. Both the batsmen took time to settle down before improving the run rate.
The 27-year-old Rohit started his calculated assault in the fourth over when he hit the ball over the head of pace bowler Pat Cummins and continued to collect boundaries regularly.
He later hit two more sixes off Starc and Faulkner and got good support from Raina at the other end. Raina relied on singles and twos but didn't hesitate to punish weak deliveries.
He scored his 33rd half century and their partnership flourished, providing a strong platform for the rest of the batsmen.
After the 28-year-old Raina perished trying to clear the mid-on off a Starc delivery, the lower-middle order batsmen failed to get it going.
Skipper Dhoni (19) lost his wicket after being bowled by Starc and later young all-rounder Patel (0) failed to impress.
However, Rohit continued his assault and ensured that the visitors put up a challenging total. He also registered his third century against Australia.
The 24-year-old Starc was the most successful bowler for Australia, taking six wickets for 43 in 10 overs while Sandhu and Faulkner picked up a wicket each.
India will take on England in their second match Tuesday.