Mohali: Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s blistering unbeaten 139 went in vain as Australia came from behind to pull off a sensational four-wicket victory over India in the third cricket one-dayer to take a 2-1 lead in the seven-match series here on Saturday.
Chasing a stiff target of 304, the Australians rode on James Faulkner`s brutal unbeaten 29-ball 64, which was studded with two fours and six sixes, to dramatically change the complexion of game and take his side home with three balls to spare.
Adam Voges made a valuable contribution of 76 not out from 88 balls, which was studded with seven fours.
A hugely costly over by out-of-form pacer Ishant Sharma who gave 30 runs in the 48th turned the tide in Australia`s favour after the Indians seemed cruising comfortably.
It was a commendable show by the Australians and the Indians paid the price of the lack of quality death bowlers in a high scoring match on a good batting track at the PCA Stadium.
Earlier, Dhoni produced a magnificent late onslaught as he rescued India from a precarious 76 for four at one stage to single-handedly take the score to 303 for 9 after the home side were asked to bat. His unbeaten knock came from 121 balls with the help of 12 fours and five sixes. Virat Kohli was the other notable contributor with a 73-ball 68.
But it was not the day for the Indians as Faulkner hit four sixes and a four in the 48th over bowled by Ishant to turn the match on its head. R Ashwin bowled a very good penultimate over just giving away five runs as Australia needed nine runs from the final over.
Faulkner ended the match in style with a six in the third ball of the final over as Australia reached 304 for six to win the match to the disappointment of the capacity crowd.
The two sides now moved to Ranchi for the fourth ODI on October 23.
Australia made a solid start in their run chase with the openers Phil Hughes and Aaron Finch sharing 68 runs in 12.2 overs but seemed to have lost the plot after that.
Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Vinay Kumar and Ishant bowled a tight line and length that squeezed the runs and built pressure on the Australians who were reduced to 88 for three in the 20th over.
Captain George Bailey (43) and Voges then stitched a 83-run stand for the fourth wicket before Australia were dealt a blow in the 37th over as they lost two wickets in the same over. Bailey and Glenn Maxwell (3) departed in the space of five balls to leave the visiting side at 174 for five.
Four balls later, Shikhar Dhawan came up with a gem of a fielding effort as his direct throw led to the run out of Maxwell who was involved in a mixed-up with Voges.
Haddin (24) was out in the 42nd over and Australia seemed to be heading towards a defeat with the asking rate having shot up 10 an over before Faulkner and Voges saw took them home.
Earlier, Dhoni led from the front by smashing an unbeaten 139 as India recovered from a poor start to post a massive 303 for nine.
The Indian captain was seen as having some sort of discomfort initially after he apparently twisted his ankle in the 14th over while turning for a second run when he was yet to faced a ball. He limped for some time early in his innings but played a blinder of any innings with a late onslaught.
Dhoni rescued India after early jitters as he played a responsible and sensible innings that came off just 121 balls, including 12 fours and five sixes.
The skipper also shared two significant partnerships -- putting on a solid 72-run stand for the fifth wicket with Virat Kohli (68) before joining hands with Ravichandran Ashwin (28) to put up 76 runs for the seventh wicket.
For Australia, Mitchell Johnson was the pick of the bowlers with figures of four for 46.
Put in to bat, India did not make an ideal start as openers Rohit Sharma (11) and Shikhar Dhawan (8), both of whom were instrumental in setting up a great platform for the team's massive 360 run chase in the previous game, on Saturday fell cheaply.
With India two down for 37, the onus was on Suresh Raina and Kohli to bail the hosts out of trouble.
But in the 13th over, Johnson struck back to see off Raina caught at the slip by Shane Watson before dismissing comeback man Yuvraj Singh off his very next delivery for a first-ball duck.
It was heartbreak for the fans of local hero Yuvraj, who edged an away going delivery to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
Raina and Yuvraj's dismissals in consecutive balls led to the run flow drying up.
Both Kohli and Dhoni also adopted a cautious approach as the duo confined themselves to scoring just in singles and twos. There was no boundary or a six hit for as many as eight overs.
Kohli broke the shackles in the 24th over and slowly but steadily completed his half-century to help the team rebuild.
Although Kohli and Dhoni failed to accelerate the scoring rate, they kept the scoreboard ticking before Glenn Maxwell returned the latter for a patient 68 off 73 balls, laced with nine fours.
Johnson then left the hosts reeling at 154 for six with all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's wicket.
With the top and middle-order back in the pavilion, Dhoni showed a lot of character as he played with responsibility. He waited patiently for the loose deliveries to go for the fours and sixes.