Marnus Labuschagne showed that he can be a man for all formats, even after he and Steve Smith were unable to save Australia from being forced to make a decision against India on Sunday.
- India made 6-340, with Shikhar Dhawan scoring 96 and KL Rahul scoring 80 out of 52 balls
- Adam Zampa took 3-50, including Virat Kohli's wicket for the seventh time in his career
- Steve Smith (98) and Marnus Labuschagne (46) combined for a third 94 race wicket
Smith reached his highest ODI score in three years in Australia's 36-race loss to the hosts on Friday night, while Labuschagne scored 46 in the doomed search of 340.
It marked Australia's first defeat in the summer, when everyone was in 314, and made a decision for the three-game series in Bangalore on Sunday.
If Australia wins, history – as the first touring team to win the ODI series in India in more than a decade – beckons.
For that to happen, they will likely need more of the same from Smith and Labuschagne, who led Australia's entrances on Friday with a 96-race third place wicket.
Smith played brilliantly for 98.
He tossed the ball neatly, swept powerfully in front of the square and was still as good on his legs as ever.
After David Warner was caught with a hand by Manish Pandey at age 15 and Aaron Finch controversially lost to 33, Smith secured the ship.
Finch appeared to have part of his boot behind the line when KL Rahul took off his belts, but admitted to Smith that he felt he was out before the third referee made the "too tight" decision.
Meanwhile, Labuschagne's 48 is not a big total on the scoreboard, but it will be the way he did things that will please the selectors.
Marnus Labuschagne was out by 46 after a pure partnership with Steve Smith. (AP: Ajit Solanki)
He was busy with the crease, facing just 16 points in his 47-ball hit when he got to work when he arrived in Australia, needing more than seven years.
After a summer of great testing as a red ball specialist, Lauschagne has shown that there is no reason why he and Smith cannot form a pair as number three and number four for the next World Cup cycle.
"We know he is in great shape, he is playing very well, but transferring that to day cricket now is something else," said Smith of Labuschagne.
"He was very busy, we were going at a reasonable pace, we were around six and there for a while.
"I thought he was doing exceptionally well tonight. He hit the gaps quite a bit, ran a lot between the shutters and played some nice shots."
Alex Carey also looks set to rise to number five in the long run after proving his worth as a batsman at last year's World Cup.
He beat 18 to 17 on Friday, but fell as part of a horror for Australia, where Steve Smith struggled when trying to cut Kuldeep Yadav moments later.
Virat Kohli was back on the races, but was still fired by his enemy Adam Zampa. (AP: Ajit Solanki)
But from then on, the game was gone, with Australia's low average order still in progress.
"We timed our chase very well when we lost three shutters between 30 and 40 overs, this disrupts the ability to try to make 10 or more," said Smith.
"I wish I had hit some more and be there at happy hour."
The rounds will be crucial again on Sunday, with Bangalore being stable, establishing another high-scoring game.
That will be the last thing players want to hear after a post from Rajkot that offered very little.
Playmaker Adam Zampa took three wickets – including Virat Kohli, aged 78, for the seventh time in international cricket – but it was difficult for the rest.
Mitchell Starc had the second worst return of his career at 0-78, while Kane Richardson had 2-73.
Ashton Agar also finished with 0-63 from eight overs, while Indian Shikhar Dhawan beat 96 and KL Rahul 80 in the race marathon.