RANCHI - The fourth one-day international between India and Australia was called off due the persistent rain and resultant water logging of the field at Ranchi on Wednesday. Umpire's inspection at 8:40pm has determined that the ground is too water logged to continue the match. Therefore, Australia preserved their 2-1 lead in the series over the hosts India. Chasing 296-run target, India were 27/0 in 4.1 overs when rain interrupted the match again.

Play has to start by 9:15pm for a 20-over innings to happen, which is required to comprise a full match and the target for India would be 150 in that case. Rohit Sharma (9*) and Shikhar Dhawan (14*) were on crease for India at the time of the rain interruption. Sent in to bat, Australia rode on a record 153-run partnership between George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell to recover from a jittery start and post a challenging 295 for eight against India in the fourth ODI on Wednesday.

Skipper Bailey (98) and Maxwell (92) missed their respective centuries but ensured that Australia recover from a difficult 71 for four to 224 for five through the team's highest partnership against India for the fifth wicket. Brought in place of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami's fiery first spell (6-1-21-3) ripped apart the Australian top order after India put the visitors into bat.

But the Aussies hugely benefited thanks to the butterfingered Indian fielders who dropped as many as six catches and the ground fielding was equally sloppy. Bailey was dropped twice (on zero and 35) in what could have been regulation catches, while Maxwell too got reprieve on two occasions (on 44 and 69) at the JSCA Stadium. As if it was not enough, Mitchell Johnson, on 15, was dropped by Raina, while in the last ball of the innings Shikhar Dhawan let one loose from James Faulkner as Australia posted a competitive target under overcast conditions.

With his personal best figures of 3-42, Shami was the pick of the Indian bowlers, while Vinay Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin took two apiece and were expensive with economy rates of 6.50 and 6.33 each. Jaydev Unadkat, who replaced the struggling Ishant Sharma, went wicketless. Shami extracted swing from the pitch, bowling at around 140-145kphs to trouble the Aussie openers.

He castled Aaron Finch (5) with an inswinger that went through the gap between bat and bat in the second over, while left-hander Phillip Hughes took an outside edge with the India skipper taking a fine catch. Shami's two-wicket burst, which reduced Australia to 24 for two in the sixth over, meant that for the first time in the series the opening duo failed to notch up the 50-mark.

The Bengal pacer almost had a third to his name in the next ball but Virat Kohli dropped Bailey at the third slip with the Aussie skipper yet to open his account. With Shami on a roll, light drizzle halted the match for about 30 minutes when Australia were 28 for two after 7.2 overs. But the rain subsided as Shami came to resume his spell and took the prized scalp of Shane Watson (14), in a replay of Finch's dismissal.

While Unadkat was not able to move the ball, Shami did it efficiently with sheer pace as the Aussies found it difficult to break free in the mandatory powerplay, going at four runs per over. But the goodwork of Shami and Unadkat was undone by R Vinay Kumar whose slow pace and lack of movement was enough for Bailey to cut loose as the skipper smashed a six and two fours in a 14-run over.

India had the fourth wicket in Adam Voges (7) but Bailey had luck on his side again as India dropped the Australian captain for a second time with Ashwin being the culprit. Bailey and Maxwell slowly repaired the damage and played the spinners intelligently to build on their partnership even as India's miserable run with catching continued.

Maxwell too got reprieve twice, by Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni, as Australia slowly tilted the match in their favour. Dhoni's reliance on slow bowlers during the halfway stage helped the Aussies' cause as the duo completed their respective half-centuries. While Bailey's innings was full of strokeplay, Maxwell tried innovation with his reverse and pull shots as Australia cruised to 201 for four in 35 overs.

Bailey smashed seven sixes and three fours before top edging a Vinay Kumar delivery to deep midwicket, where Rohit Sharma took a safe catch as the batsman missed his second century of the series. Vinay Kumar took his second wicket dismissing a dangerous looking Maxwell who hit five sixes and six fours in a 77-ball knock as India slowly pegged themselves back. But the sloppy catching ensured Australia's lower order -- Mitchell Johnson (25) and James Faulkner (25 not out) -- to post another challenging total, five runs shy of a fourth 300-plus total in the series.

Scoreboard

AUSTRALIA:

A Finch b Shami     5

P Hughes c Dhoni b Shami    11

S Watson b Shami    14

G Bailey c Sharma b Vinay    98

A Voges lbw b Ashwin    7

G Maxwell lbw b Vinay    92

B Haddin b Jadeja    3

J Faulkner not out    23

M Johnson st Dhoni b Ashwin    25

C McKay not out    7

EXTRAS: (lb7, w3)    10

TOTAL: (8 wkts; 50 overs)    295

FOW: 1-5, 2-24, 3-32, 4-71, 5-224, 6-232, 7-238, 8-281

BOWLING: J Unadkat 6-0-31-0, M Shami 8-1-42-3, Vinay Kumar 8-0-52-2, R Ashwin 9-0-57-2, R Jadeja 10-0-56-1, Yuvraj Singh 1-0-12-0, S Raina 8-0-38-0

INDIA:

R Sharma not out    9

S Dhawan not out    14

EXTRAS: (b4)    4

TOTAL: (0 wkts; 4.1 overs)    27

BOWLING: M Johnson 2.1-0-10-0, C McKay 2-0-13-0

TOSS: India

UMPIRES: R Kettleborough (Eng), V Kulkarni (Ind)

TV UMPIRE: AK Chaudhary (Ind)