Final-over frustration leaves Aussies on brink
Man mountain Marcus Stoinis threatened to drag Australia to victory but fellow all-rounder Vijay Shankar proved a consummate closer in Nagpur, where India won a final-over ODI thriller by eight runs.
Virat Kohli, invited to bat first in the topsy-turvy clash that handed the hosts a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, scored 116 as India were bowled out for for 250 in 48.2 overs.
The tourists motored to 0-83 but Aaron Finch's dismissal on 37 prompted a collapse of 4-49 that was bookended by wickets from left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Stoinis, demoted to No.6 in a reshuffled order following Shaun Marsh's return, strode to the crease and scored 52 under immense pressure as momentum continued to shift frequently.
Stoinis, on strike and with 11 runs required when the final over started, looked to attack medium-pacer Shankar's first delivery but was instead trapped lbw. The West Australian reviewed the on-field decision and it only delayed the inevitable.
Adam Zampa scored two to give his teammates hope of a miracle then was clean bowled the next ball, prompting wild celebrations from India.
"We're all hurting," Pat Cummins said, having snared 4-29 and dismissed Kohli.
"You always look back ... could you have done something different?
"When Marcus is there, you always feel like we're in with a chance. He's been the closer for the last couple of years, played some unbelievable knocks and assesses the game really well.
"It's really, really disappointing to lose but all is not lost, there's still three games to go."
Finch described Stoinis' innings as brilliant in the post-match ceremony, lamenting how nobody in Australia's top order posted a big score.
Shankar earlier scored 46 and was only bowling his second over of the match, having been hammered for 13 during his first over.
"It was an opportunity to redeem myself after the expensive over I bowled," said Shankar.
"I was up for the challenge... I wanted to just stick to the basics, hit the stumps from a hard length as there was a bit of reverse (swing).
Peter Handscomb (48) and Alex Carey (22) had helped Stoinis take the game deep to a point where Australia required 65 runs from the final 10 overs.
Carey became Yadav's third victim while Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins were out during the 46th over, a cracker from Jasprit Bumrah that cost just one run and ended with Stoinis turning down a single to keep strike.
Bumrah also conceded a single run during his final over, with a confident Stoinis backing himself to take 20 runs off the final two overs. The result means Australia will lose the series if they suffer another defeat in Ranchi on Friday.
Australia will take some solace from the fact that some 248 of India's 250 runs were scored when Kohli was at the crease, with Cummins insisting there are plenty of positives as the World Cup looms large.
"We're taking every single game deep," the paceman said.
"I feel like every time we walk on the field we're a real shot of winning a game, no matter the circumstances.
"We've still got quite a lot of cricket before the World Cup but I honestly think it's in a really good place."
Most ODI centuries
49-Sachin Tendulkar, India
40-Virat Kohli, India
30-Ricky Ponting, Australia
28-Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka
27-Hashim Amla, South Africa
25-AB de Villiers, South Africa
25-Chris Gayle, West Indies
25-Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka
22-Rohit Sharma, India
22-Sourav Ganguly, India
22-Tillakaratne Dilshan, Sri Lanka