Rohit Sharma's record-breaking 209 seemed to have put Australia out of the contest even before the visitors' innings began but James Faulkner's century ensured that India sweat it out to win the series 3-2 with a 57-run win in the seventh ODI at Bangalore.
Rohit hit a world-record 16 sixes in his 158-ball knock in a breathtaking display of batting that saw him becoming only third batsman in ODI history to score a double hundred, after Virender Sehwag (219) and Sachin Tendulkar (200*). It took India to a mammoth 383 for 6 in 50 overs.
Australia, chasing the highest total ever scored against them, kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Faulkner, though, lifted their sagging spirits with a late-order blitz that saw him scoring 116 off 73 balls in a 115-run stand for the ninth wicket with Clint Mckay. The knock also saw Faulkner breaking Australian record of fastest ODI century, getting his in 57 balls. Glenn Maxwell scored 60 off 22 balls, which also saw him equal Australian record for fastest fifty in 17 balls.
The visitors lost their in-form opener Aaron Finch (5) as early as the second over when Mohammad Shami trapped him in front. Australia promoted wicketkeeper Brad Haddin up the order, but he and Phil Hughes never got going.
Dhoni's decision to introduce R Ashwin in the 13th over brought quick results as the offspinner removed Hughes (23) off his first ball, caught by Yuvraj Singh. Hughes's dismissal led to two more quick wickets, with George Bailey (4) falling to an unnecessary run out and Haddin (40) bowled by Ashwin to make it 74 for 4 in the 17th over.
From that stage on, Australia were always behind the nine ball and could never recover. For a brief spell, Maxwell looked like getting Australia back up but his whirlwind knock, which included 7 sixes and 3 fours, was ended by Vinay Kumar, who played the game in place of Amit Mishra.
Watson, who went off during India innings due to a niggle after bowling just five overs, came out to bat lower down the order. His hit-all approach saw him hitting 6 sixes and 2 fours on his way to 49 in 22 balls, before being dismissed by Ravindra Jadeja.
Just when it seemed writing was on the wall, Faulkner and McKay combined for an unbelievable stand. Faulkner decided to enjoy himself, but his enjoyment soon turned into a worry for India as he continued to hit the ball out of the park.
Jadeja then ended the duo's resistance bowling McKay for 18. Shami then soon removed Faulkner to end the Australian innings.
Indian bowlers did well, with Shami and Jadeja being the pick of the bowlers. While Shami returned figures of 3 for 52 in 8.1 overs, Jadeja's spell read 3 for 73 in 10. However, Vinay went on to add an unfortunate record to his name by becoming the most expensive Indian bowler in ODI history with a nine-over spell of 1 for 102.
Earlier, after being put in to bat, India openers Dhawan and Rohit put up their sixth century stand to lay a solid foundation for India. Dhawan was the more aggressive of the two in the 107 runs they added before rain came down at the end of 17th over to halt play for 28 minutes.
The break seemed to have benefited Australia as they came out with their plans reworked. Dhawan was dismissed for 60 in the 19th over lbw to left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty. And when Virat Kohli was run out for a duck in the 20th over, Australia had pulled things back at 113 for 2 in 20 overs.
Rohit and Suresh Raina put on 73 runs for the third wicket, and just when it looked Raina was returning to some sort of form, Doherty returned to claim his second lbw dismissal of the match, dismissing Raina for 28.
Yuvraj never looked in while being peppered with short stuff by Nathan Coulter-Nile and Faulkner. However, it wasn't a short ball but a stunning left-handed catch by Haddin off Faulkner that saw Yuvraj (12) walking back.
Dhoni came in and looked in no hurry whatsoever, probably asking Rohit to not focus on losing a wicket in the batting Powerplay in which India scored just 22 runs. But what happened in the last 10 overs was nothing short of a massacre.
Rohit, who had brought up his half-century in 71 balls, went on to add the next 50 runs off 43 balls to reach his fourth ODI century and second of this series. But he scored the last 109 runs of his innings in just 44 balls during the last 10 overs of the innings. When Rohit smacked his 11th six, he broke Dhoni's record of most sixes in an ODI by an Indian. Then came six No. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16, which broke the world record held by Watson.
By now Dhoni too was in the groove, putting his full arsenal on show. But the stroke that took the cake was his 'helicopter shot' that went out of the stadium. Dhoni went on to smack 62 runs in 38 balls, studded with 7 fours and 2 sixes, before getting run out off the last ball of the innings.
Doherty picked 2 for 74 in his 10 overs. Clint McKay (1 for 89) and Faulkner (1 for 75) were the other wicket-takers.
The match also saw a new world record being set for the number of sixes in an ODI with as many as 38 hits into the stands.