FOURTH ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL, Chandigarh:
India 291-4 (50 overs) bt Australia 283-7 (50 overs) by eight runs
Tendulkar was not at his fluent best and could have fallen early
Sachin Tendulkar hit a record 84th ODI fifty as India beat Australia by eight runs in their fourth one-day match.
On a slow turning pitch, Tendulkar (79) hung on to provide a platform Mahendra Dhoni (50no) and Robin Uthappa (30no) built on as India amassed 291-4.
Matthew Hayden hit a blistering 92 in reply and Andrew Symonds smacked 75 but wickets tumbled as the scoring slowed.
Australia finished on 283-7 to cut their lead in the seven-match series to 2-1 with the next game on Thursday.
It was just what the series and India needed after being outplayed in the previous matches, but they were again under pressure in the early stages as Brett Lee swung the ball at pace in an impressive opening spell.
Tendulkar, who had struggled for form after opting out of the World Twenty20, should have been given out caught behind and lbw to the speedster when he had scored only one.
He waited 43 balls before hitting his first boundary and punctuated periods of scratching around with some delightful drives, while the more aggressive Sourav Ganguly (41) was also beaten several times before nicking James Hopes behind to end a stand of 91.
The "Little Master" somehow battled through to overtake Inzamam-ul-Haq's 83 ODI fifties and together with Yuvraj Singh (39) upped the run rate, which Tendulkar's delicate touch and skipper Dhoni's brute force turned into an assault.
Once Tendulkar had been run out, Uthappa and Dhoni launched a series of powerful drives, particularly down the ground, to end the innings with a flourish.
Dhoni sent the final ball flying into the crowd for the only six off the innings to bring up his fifty and lay down the gauntlet to the world champions.
Hayden was in aggressive form
With Hayden and Gilchrist helping themselves to leg-side sixes off left-armers Zaheer Khan and RP Singh, Australia replied in kind and Hayden was a figure of awesome power at times.
The left-hander latched on to anything too full or just short of a length to crash the ball away either side of the wicket in reaching 50 in 39 balls and he had the perfect ally in captain Ricky Ponting who lashed three fours off one RP Singh over.
Australia's 100 was up inside 13 overs and they were cruising to victory when an unhappy Ponting was stumped lunging forward to Irfan Pathan and Michael Clarke spooned a catch back to Harbhajan Singh.
With Symonds around, the run rate was never going to be a problem and he illustrated that by smacking Murali Kartik for a maximum.
And though Hayden was caught on the mid-wicket boundary off the left-arm spinner, Symonds kept the scoreboard ticking with quick running to dominate a half century partnership with the out-of-sorts Brad Hodge.
However, Hodge was stumped off Harbhajan, Symonds was bowled trying to make room to carve RP Singh away and Brad Hogg was run out attempting a reckless single.
The innings fizzled out to breathe life into home interest in the series.
India captain Mahendra Dhoni:
"We were not able to chase earlier on in the series so we decided to bat first.
"Credit should go to Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly for giving us a good start.
"Our bowlers also bowled very well in the middle overs.
"We needed to be aggressive otherwise we could not have come back in the series like this."
Australia captain Ricky Ponting:
"The Indians played very well, they kept wickets in hand and opened up only at the end.
"We were in a comfortable position while chasing but then lost crucial wickets."