Hyderabad:Sachin Tendulkar's spectacular knock of 175 runs went in vain as India, who once looked poised for a well-crafted win, lost momentum and let Australia prevail in the end to defeat the hosts by 3 runs in the 5th ODI in Hyderabad.
Chasing Australia mammoth 350 for four, built mainly around Shaun Marsh's 112 and Shane Watson's 93, the Indians rode on Tendulkar's heroic 141 ball knock to come within sniffing distance of a remarkable win but the tailenders faltered under pressure to be all out for 347 with two balls to spare.
It was a remarkable exhibition of strokeplay by Tendulkar, who not only notched up his 45th ODI hundred but also became the first cricketer in the history of the game to cross the 17,000 run mark.
It was also the fastest century by an Indian against the Australians as well as the highest individual score against the visitors.
The jam-packed Rajiv Gandhi International stadium witnessed an extraordinary contest that saw as many as 697 runs being scored in a game which fortunes fluctuated from one end to the other till the very end.
The two teams will now travel to Guwahati for the sixth one-dayer to be held on Sunday.
Tendulkar was at his ominous best from the onset as he clobbered the Australian attack to all parts of the ground, hitting 19 fours and four sixes.
Opening the batting, he first shared 66 runs with Virender Sehwag (38 off 30) and then stitched a vital 137 runs with Suresh Raina, who made a run-a-ball 59, for the fifth wicket in exactly 19 overs to power India to the victory.
But Tendulkar's dismissal in the first ball of the 48th over, caught when he played the scoop shot at fine leg by a diving Nathan Huaritz, unhinged the Indian innings as the remaining tail-end batsmen proved unequal to the task of scoring 19 runs in 17 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja (23) and Praveen Kumar (9) were run out, while Ashish Nehra fell for one as India slid to defeat from 299 for four in the 43rd over.
India struggled at 162 for four when Tendulkar was joined by Raina and their excellent stand for the fifth wicket brought India on the doorsteps of victory, but it was not to be.
Except for Sehwag and Tendulkar, the Indian top order failed as Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed cheaply to leave Tendulkar with the huge task of guiding India past the finishing line.
Tendulkar, who had been outstanding in the field while most of his other teammates fumbled when Australia batted, got the ideal partner in young Raina.
The duo piloted the innings from a difficult 162 for four in the 24th over with their century stand with Tendulkar guiding his younger partner. They were separated only when India needed 52 runs from 45 balls, Raina top-edging a sweep to keeper Graham Manou.
The hosts asked for the batting Power Play when 46 were needed from the last six overs with four wickets in hand, after Harbhajan Singh made a first ball duck, but to add to India's misery, Tendulkar started to develop leg cramps by that time.
India needed 31 runs from the last 24 balls and then 19 from 18 when Tendulkar and Ravindra Jadeja departed at the same score. The equation was brought down to 16 from 12 when Ashish Nehra was out.
The hosts needed eight of the last over and got four of those before Praveen Kumar was run by Hauritz after the right-hander went for the second run.
Tendulkar, who notched his fourth 150-plus innings in his 435th ODI, played with a lot of freedom once he reached the landmark of 17,000 runs.
Tendulkar and Sehwag were going great guns before the Delhi dasher top-edged a hook off Ben Hilfenhaus to fine leg.
Ponting decision to bring in Clint McKay into the attack in place of the expensive Bollinger worked as Gambhir although greeted the debutant with a four, the right-arm pacer got his revenge getting the lefthander's wicket, caught at third man.
Tendulkar, after reaching his 50 with a single in 47 balls that included seven hits to the fence, lofted the 26-yar-old McKay to the long on fence for his eighth four.
The champion batsman, whose previous highest score in this series was 40 made at Mohali in the fourth tie, then turned on the heat at Nathan Huaritz and struck the off-spinner for successive fours. He also hoisted him for two sixes off successive balls.
In between, Yuvraj Singh was caught and bowled in a tame manner while trying to flick Watson after he added 34 runs in 30 balls with Tendulkar.
Skipper Dhoni too departed early, caught brilliantly at gully off McKay to leave India in a spot of bother at 162 for four in the 24th over.
But Raina fully utilised the life handed by Cameron White at slip in the first ball he faced from McKay and blossomed in Tendulkar's company, hitting 10 fours and three sixes to take India inches closer to the win before the tail made mess of their efforts.
Earlier, strapping Queensland all-rounder Shane Watson smashed 93 off 89 balls with three sixes and eight fours, while left-handed Shaun Marsh's maiden ODI century took Australia to their second highest total against India.
The 26-year-old son of former Australian opener Geoff made a run-a-ball 112 with the help of two sixes and eight fours, putting on 145 runs for the first wicket with Watson.
Marsh was out in the slog phase, caught just inside the boundary line off Ashish Nehra.
Skipper Ricky Ponting too chipped in with a run-a-ball 45 and was also involved in a breezy 91-run stand for the second wicket with Marsh in 82 balls to set up the late assault in which the visitors added 105 runs in the last 10 overs.
Cameron White (57 in 33 balls with 5 sixes and 2 fours) and Michael Hussey (31 in 22 balls with 2 sixes and one four) struck lusty blows against the three Indian pacers.
Electing to bat first on a perfect batting track after Ponting had won the toss for the fourth time in five ties, the right-left duo of Watson and Marsh put on the first century stand in the series on either side to lay a strong foundation.
The Indian spinners, particularly Harbhajan Singh, applied the skids on the tourists' runaway start, to keep Australia well under check by denying them boundaries for 80 balls in the middle overs.
The Indian bowlers had a total off day barring Harbhajan whose two spells cost 28 runs in eight overs and 16 in his last two for the wicket of Watson. Nehra and Praveen Kumar were just not in their elements and were punished mercilessly by the batsmen. Munaf, in his first match, was equally unimpressive and left-arm slow bowler Ravindra Jadeja was hammered for 44 runs in five overs.
To top it all, the Indian fielding too was below par barring a few diving stops as there were a number of misfields, Nehra in particular being pathetic with his slow running and poor anticipation.