Indian star Virat Kohli struck a scintillating century to help the visitors post a challenging 295 for six against Australia in the third cricket ODI here on Sunday.
Put into bat in a must-win game to stay alive in the five-match series, India lost two-time centurion Rohit Sharma (6) early only see Kohli (117) pilot the innings at the huge MCG.
Kohli, who not only got past 7000 runs in ODIs during his run-a-ball knock also became the fastest to register 24 tons in the 50-over format, got adequate support from Shikhar Dhawan (68) and then Ajinkya Rahane (50).
Dahwan was slow during his 91-ball stay, but managed to stitch a 119-run second-wicket stand with Kohli, whose well-paced innings was laced with seven fours and two sixes.
Kohli then found Rahane's company as the duo managed a 109-run third-wicket partnership to give more muscle to the Indian batting.
The visitors sprung a couple surprises in the afternoon, when they handed debuts to both Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Rishi Dhawan. Ravichandran Ashwin and Manish Pandey were excluded from the playing eleven as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is playing his 300th international match as captain—only Ricky Ponting and Stephen Fleming have led in more games, went in with six bowlers.
Rohit and Dhawan took first strike then, but the in-form opener couldn't replicate his centuries from the first two matches and was out caught behind off Kane Richardson (1-48) in the 5th over.
Kohli then walked to the crease, and looked fluent from the very beginning. It was important in the context of the innings as Dhawan was scratching around for his runs. While they didn't lose any more wickets, India could only reach 62/1 in the first 15 overs.
That is when the duo started pulling things back, and upped the ante. They unleashed a flurry of boundaries as the run-rate moved to five an over, and the two batsmen celebrated their fifties in the 23rd over.
Kohli got to his fifty in 51 deliveries, while Dhawan brought up his 16th ODI half-century off 76 balls. India's 100-mark came up in the 22nd over earlier, while they also brought up their 100-partnership off 120 balls.