Shikhar Dhawan India
Shikhar Dhawan celebrates reaching his century against Australia. BCCI Official Website
Virat Kohli in a ruthless mood during his unbeaten hundred against Australia. BCCI Official Website
Virat Kohli in a ruthless mood during his unbeaten hundred against Australia. BCCI Official Website

Virat Kohli is like Superman in ODIs, particularly when India are chasing. The right-handed tyro from Delhi played another absolute blinder to guide India to a six-wicket win over Australia in the sixth one-day international and keep the series alive.

George Bailey, the more said and written about him the better, and Shane Watson struck brisk - well, brisk is an understatement really -- tons and punished, absolutely battered, the Indian bowlers, guiding Australia to a round-figure 350 for six in 50 overs.

The unstoppable Kohli (115), in reply, smashed a stunning unbeaten hundred -- maybe a little better than the one in the second ODI in Jaipur when India chased down 359, because the pressure here in Nagpur was bigger -- and with the help of a century of his own from Shikhar Dhawan (100), and Rohit Sharma (79) India hauled down yet another huge total to tie the series at 2-2, with the hosts eventually finishing on 351 for four in 49.3 overs.

The match now heads to the final ODI in Bangalore on Saturday, on the eve of Diwali, in what promises to be another cracker.

Rohit Sharma sent out a signal of what was to come off the very first ball, caressing a cover drive off Johnson as India took off well.

Every time the two openers give India a solid start, they post a big total - that is a given. With a target like 351, a good partnership for the first wicket is essential, and as they did in Jaipur, Sharma and Dhawan did exactly that, putting on 178 in just 177 deliveries.

Sharma, actually struggled to break free for quite a while, and it was Dhawan who was in full flow for much of the alliance. The left-hander, so elegant to watch at his best, which at the moment is almost all the time, though, was a little lucky to survive early on with Glenn Maxwell dropping a dolly at point off James Faulkner in just the ninth over, when Dhawan was on a mere 19.

Boy oh boy did Australia and Maxwell pay for that mistake, as Dhawan, who just missed out on the three-figure mark in that amazing game in Jaipur, blitzed to a century.

When Dhawan reached his half-ton in 50 balls, Sharma, having faced the same number of deliveries was just on 33, which showed how much the latter was actually struggling to rotate the strike.

However, it was always just a matter of hitting a couple of sixes for Sharma to bulk-up his strike rate, and he did just that off part-timers Maxwell and Aaron Finch.

Going for the big shots, though, also proved to be his downfall, as Sharma (79, 89b, 7x4, 3x6) holed out in the deep while looking to smash a long-hop off Finch.

India needn't have worried as Virat Kohli came in, and like he did in the second ODI, took control of proceedings, smashing a few delightful boundaries, and one massive six to keep India on course.

Shikhar Dhawan celebrates reaching his century against Australia. BCCI Official Website
Shikhar Dhawan celebrates reaching his century against Australia. BCCI Official Website

Dhawan reached his century in the 36th over off Faulkner to cue wild celebrations, before the left-armer came back to knock the left-hander's stumps after a quite brilliant 102-ball 100 (11x4).

With Suresh Raina in to partner Kohli, India required another 117 runs from the final 14 overs for victory, which was whittled down to 62 from eight overs, before Mitchell Johnson (two for 72) struck a couple of blows.

Johnson's hoodoo over Raina (16 in 15) and Yuvraj Singh continued with the former first given out caught behind, before Yuvraj was castled in just his second delivery. Australia pulled things back a little as Kohli was stuck at the non-striker's end, with the equation reading 42 needed from the final four overs.

Dhoni (25, 23b, 2x4), like he did in that lone T20 against Australia at the beginning of the tour, let Kohli (115, 66b, 18x4, 1x6) take control as he calmed things down, and the special 24-year-old right-hander just came to the fore, scoring his eleventh hundred in a chase, to take India home.

Earlier, on a Nagpur pitch and outfield that is to batsmen what water is to fish, the Australians carved the India bowlers to every conceivable inch of the ground.

MS Dhoni made a couple of changes to his side bringing in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and an extra spinner in Amit Mishra for R Vinay Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat, in the hopes that the relative slow nature of the wicket would aid the slower bowlers in the middle overs.

The Aussies, unchanged, just cracked a smile at that and licked their lips at the opportunity to bat first, cranking into top gear pretty much from the time that Bailey walked into bat in the second ball of the 12th over.

India had actually got themselves into a decent position at 45 for two after picking up both the openers relatively cheaply. First Kumar sent Hughes (13, 22b, 3x4) packing, after the Aussie left-hander found a swivel shot straight to Kohli at square leg in the seventh over.

R Ashwin then found a way through Finch's defences, which only enough paved the way for the innings-defining partnership.

George Bailey and Shane Watson cracked splendid centuries for Australia. BCCI Official Website
George Bailey and Shane Watson cracked splendid centuries for Australia. BCCI Official Website

Bailey, in the form of his life, came in and struck the ball sweetly right from the off as Shane Watson also hit his heights with the Aussie pair striking a partnership of 168 from just 23.3 overs.

While Watson was at his on-the-up-driving and belligerent best, Bailey was on another level. The Aussie skipper was unstoppable really, and almost every time an Indian bowler went up to drop down a delivery, because that is all they really were drop-downs, to him he would categorically take the leather off the ball.

Courtesy that massive partnership, Australia went to 213 in just a little over 34 overs, before Mohammed Shami found a way through the gate of Watson - out after making a brilliant 102 from just 94 balls, with 13 fours and three sixes packed into it.

Glenn Maxwell struck a couple of boundaries, but did not last long, before Adam Voges, understanding the situation, and the form that Bailey was in, just hung in there and let the skipper do all the hard work - hard work is used very loosely here, because it actually looked like Bailey was having a mug of beer on a balmy day, such was the ease with which he went about his innings.

Bailey reached his 100 in just 84 deliveries, before going into full assault mode, as 150 was breached in a mere 25 more deliveries. Almost every other delivery in the last ten overs was finding the boundary, and everything that Bailey touched turned into gold, before finally holing out in the final over of the innings to Ravindra Jadeja for an outstanding 156 (114b, 13x4, 6x6).

Jadeja also picked up Adam Voges (44 n.o., 38b, 5x4), caught and bowled, but for the second time in the match, overstepped the mark, letting the Aussies off the hook.

The India all-rounder did pick up his 100th wicket in ODIs a couple of balls later, but it was too little too late as Australia thumped, cut, slogged and caressed 99 runs in the final ten overs to set India a target of real note in a must-win game for the hosts.

However, the chasing side, like they have so often in this series, had the final say.

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