Canberra: India capitulated shamelessly losing the last 9 wickets for 46 runs to give Australia a 25-run victory in the fourth ODI, here today after outstanding centuries by Shikhar Dhawan (126) and Virat Kohli (106).
Chasing a substantial 349 for their first win in the series, the visitors were given a great start by Rohit Sharma, who hit a breezy 41 off 25 balls before Dhawan and Kohli set up a rollicking partnership of 212 runs for the second wicket off 177 balls to take the team to 277 without any further loss when Dhawan fell to mark a long procession of Indian batsman returning to the pavilion.
Kohli hit 106 off only 92 balls for his second successive century in the series before a soft dismissal and then Dhoni (0) lasted only three balls to dash India's hopes with another frontline batsman Ajinkya Rahane injured although he did come into bat making only 2 runs.
India's fourth successive defeat in the five-match series came a day after Team Director Ravi Shastri had said that "there is absolutely no shame in the way they have played despite recent results," but after the match Dhoni took responsibility of the loss.
When India finally got dismissed for 323 in 49.2 overs, Australia registered their 18th consecutive win in ODIs played at home.
India now have five centuries in the series with Rohit and Virat helping themseleves to two each and now Dhawan has also scored a hundred. However poor bowling has cost them dearly in this series.
Chasing 349, Rohit and Dhawan set a hectic pace from the very start. They were helped by Australia's ploy of starting with Nathan Lyon (1-76) from one end.
It helped the Indian batsmen, with Rohit going on the attack straightaway, and the 50-mark came up in just 44 balls.
He played a quick-fire knock which set up the chase and the next pair didn't look back after that.
Dhawan's innings had 14 boundaries and two sixes while Kohli hit 11 boundaries and a six.
But he was gone after gloving the ball down the leg side off Kane Richardson (5/68) in the 8th over. Kohli and Dhawan then continued with smacking the ball at will, and the next 50 runs for India came in just 30 balls, with the 100-mark coming up in the 13th over.
When it started to drizzle, it assured that the Duckworth/Lewis method would be the least of their worries.
Meanwhile, nothing was working for Australian bowlers on a flat track, as the Indian duo didn't let up the pressure of scoring, that too without offering a single chance.
James Faulkner (0-48), Mitchell Marsh (2-55), Glenn Maxwell (0-10) and Steve Smith (0-16), all were taken for runs in their initial spells as the Dhawan-Kohli scoring rate never dipped below seven-per-over.
Their 100-stand came up in just 78 balls, as Dhawan reached his fifty off 49 balls in the 17th over while Kohli got there in just 34 balls in the 19th over. They gained further momentum after this as the 150-mark came up in the 20th over and before the end of the 26th over, India had already breached the 200-mark.
When India crossed 250 in only the 34th over, the possibility of a first-ever successful 300-plus run-chase against Australia in Australia became very real.
Dhawan had reached his 9th ODI hundred off 92 balls, in the 31st over, his first ODI century since March last year.
Shortly afterwards Kohli reached his 25th ODI hundred off 84 balls in the 36th over, his second successive hundred of the series. At this juncture, it was about one of these two batsmen finishing it off.
But Dhawan was caught at backward point in the 38th over with Hastings breaking the 212-run stand. It started a downslide for India as skipper MS Dhoni was out for a three-ball duck, caught behind in the same over for a double blow.
Perhaps the biggest jolt came when Kohli holed out straight to mid-off in the 40th over, Richardson finally striking.
Gurkeerat Mann (5) played a needless shot immediately after a boundary to be caught as the ball went up in the air, while the injured Ajinkya Rahane (2) was caught at slip in the 42nd over.
Richardson struck for a fourth time quickly, snapping up Rishi Dhawan (9) as India's chase unravelled. Ravindra Jadeja (24 not out) held fort, but no one else was willing to stay at the other end, as the last 9 wickets fell for just 46 runs post the 2nd wicket.
Earlier, riding on a 187-run opening stand between Aaron Finch and David Warner, Australia scored 348/8 (50 overs).
Finch (107 runs, 107 balls, 9 fours, 2 sixes) struck his 7th ODI hundred while Warner (93 runs, 92 balls, 12 fours, 1 six) scored his 13th ODI fifty as they flayed the Indian bowling to all parts of the ground.
This was after Australian won the toss and elected to bat first on a cloudy and windy morning. The hosts made two changes to their side with Warner returning from paternity leave and Nathan Lyon included in the side in place of Scott Boland.
India made just the one change with Bhuvneshwar Kumar coming in the place of Barinder Sran. Surprisingly, R Ashwin
did not make the cut again.
Finch and Warner started off proceedings against Umesh Yadav (3-67) and Kumar (0-69), the UP medium pacer sharing the new ball on his return to the eleven after the Perth ODI.
He looked rusty from the very beginning and Yadav was again off the mark as the Australian openers got off to a rousing start.
Warner, in particular, looked like he had never been away and smacked 3 fours in the 4th over bowled by Kumar and then handing out the same treatment to Yadav an over later.
The 50-mark came up for the duo in the 7th over, off just 38 balls, inclusive of 9 boundaries. Ishant Sharma (4-77) was introduced into the attack in the 6th over, and he only just about managed to slow down their scoring. Gurkeerat Mann (0-24) was also brought on early in the 12th over, but the two batsmen couldn't be stopped.
Warner reached his 50 off just 46 balls, in the 14th over, while Finch reached that mark off 61 balls in the 23rd over. Ravindra Jadeja (0-51) came on to bowl in the 17th over and was taken for 15 runs in his very first over, signalling an off day for the left-arm spinner.
The Australian scoring continued to race as the 100-mark came up in the 17th over, with Rishi Dhawan (0-53) impressing in the middle overs.
Ajinkya Rahane split his hand webbing in the 20th over, whilst fielding, and left the field to receive medical care.
He didn't return for the remainder of the innings, and with four stitches to his right hand, will bat in the run-chase if deemed necessary.
He was the second casualty of the day with umpire Richard Kettleborough getting hit in the 6th over earlier on, off a Finch drive on his right leg, and leaving the field for medical care.
Paul Wilson then joined John Ward (who wore a helmet thereafter) on the field, while Sam Nogajski took over as the 3rd umpire.
Meanwhile, Warner-Finch breached the 150-mark in the 26th over, and were looking set enough to continue plundering runs.
But Ishant broke the partnership in the 30th over, an inside edge onto his stumps dismissing him in the 90s. Mitchell Marsh (33 runs, 42 balls, 3 fours) was promoted up the order, but he didn't make the requisite impact at number three.
At the other end, Finch reached his century off 97 balls in the 34th over, but was out soon after, caught by Ishant off Umesh, as the run-rate seemed to be slowing down.
Australia had reached 237/2 in the 40th over, and thereafter stepped on the accelerator as skipper Steve Smith (51 runs, 29 balls, 4 fours, 3 sixes) arrived at the crease. He smacked a quickfire 9th ODI fifty, off only 27 balls as the innings went into high gear.
A flurry of wickets fell thereafter, including Marsh and Smith gone in the 45th and 46th over respectively, but it wasn't enough to slow down their march.
Even George Bailey (10) and James Faulkner (7) couldn’t make much of an impact, but then Glenn Maxwell (41 runs, 20 balls, 6 fours, 1 six) provided a final flourish, as the hosts took 111 runs in the last 10 overs.