MELBOURNE - Paceman Mitchell Starc took 6-43 to help Australia to a four-wicket victory over India on Sunday, their second in succession in the one-day international tri-series, despite a brilliant Rohit Sharma century. Sharma's 138 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground enabled India to post a competitive total of 267 for eight after winning the toss and electing to bat.

However, on a placid pitch it always appeared slightly less than required and Australian opener Aaron Finch countered Sharma's century with a match-winning knock of his own. Finch made 96 as Australia rattled up 269 for six, winning with six balls to spare. He received great support from the in-form Steve Smith (47). The pair put on 101 for the third wicket as the home side appeared to be coasting to victory.

However, Finch fell when a century beckoned, caught behind by Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the bowling of Umesh Yadav, as the tourists made an unlikely late bid to snatch victory. In an unexpectedly tense finish, Brad Haddin and James Faulkner got the Australians home with an unbroken 21-run stand. Australian captain George Bailey, who faces a one-match suspension for slow over rates after his second breach in under 12 months, admitted he was disappointed the finish was so close.

"Would have been nice if we hadn't left it up to Faulkner," he said. "We dragged it back really well with the ball. We had the momentum when we came off the field." In a blow to India, paceman M Shami was forced off the field with a leg problem after bowling the first ball of the 47th over. Dhoni sought to stress the positives for his team, particularly the way they had responded when the game appeared lost. "That (attitude) will win us tournaments," he said.

India's innings was dogged by a poor start and a disappointing finish. Beaten by the host nation 2-0 in the recent four-Test series, they found themselves in early trouble at 59 for three. As was the case in Australia's big win over England in the series opener on Friday, left-arm paceman Starc claimed a wicket in the first over of the match -- Shikhar Dhawan caught by Aaron Finch at second slip for just two.

Fellow paceman Gurinder Sandhu, born in Australia to Indian parents, then made a dream debut when he claimed the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in just his second over. Virat Kohli could not summon up his incredible form of the Test series, making just nine before he was caught off the bowling of Faulkner. Suresh Raina, who made a pair when recalled for the fourth Test against Australia earlier this month, then went out to join Sharma and they rebuilt the innings.

Once again the tension between the sides briefly boiled over, when Australian opener David Warner and Sharma exchanged words after the Indians ran an overthrow in the 23rd over. But the Indian batsmen were not distracted and the pair put on 126 before Raina (51) holed out to mid-on to give Starc his second scalp. Sharma continued to lead the way, gliding Starc to third man for a single a few minutes later for his sixth one-day international century, from 109 balls. He eventually fell late in the innings as Starc put the brakes on the Indian innings again. Sharma faced 139 balls, hitting nine fours and four sixes.



R Sharma c Maxwell b Starc    138

S Dhawan c Finch b Starc    2

A Rahane c Haddin b Sandhu    12

V Kohli c Bailey b Faulkner    9

S Raina c Maxwell b Starc    51

M Dhoni b Starc    19

A Patel lbw Starc    0

R Ashwin not out    14

B Kumar b Starc    0

M Shami not out    2

EXTRAS: (b1, lb3, w15, nb1)    20

TOTAL: (8 wkts, 50 overs)    267

FOW: 1-3, 2-33, 3-59, 4-185, 5-237, 6-237, 7-262, 8-262

BOWLING: Starc 10-2-43-6, Cummins 10-0-52-0, Sandhu 10-0-58-1, Faulkner 10-0-63-1, Watson 8-0-33-0, Maxwell 2-0-14-0


A Finch c Dhoni b Yadav    96

D Warner c Raina b Yadav    24

S Watson b Patel    41

S Smith c Ashwin b Shami    47

G Maxwell c and b Kumar    20

G Bailey c Dhoni b Ashwin    5

B Haddin not out    13

J Faulkner not out    9

EXTRAS: (lb3, w11)    14

TOTAL: (6 wkts, 49 overs)    269

FOW: 1-51, 2-115, 3-216, 4-219, 5-230, 6-248

BOWLING: Kumar 9.5-0-44-1, Yadav 10-1-55-2, Shami 8.1-0-44-1, Patel 10-0-45-1, Ashwin 9-0-54-1, Raina 2-0-24-0

TOSS: India

UMPIRES: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI), John Ward (AUS)

TV UMPIRE: Mick Martell (AUS)