India's Virat Kohli bats against Australia during their Twenty20 cricket match in Sydney, on Sunday, November 25, 2018. Image Credit: AP

Sydney: India's Virat Kohli led from the front with a sparkling 61 not out to help secure a series-levelling six-wicket victory over Australia in the third and final Twenty20 International on Sunday.

Chasing 165 to win, India suffered a mid-innings slump that left them needing 52 off the last five overs. Kohli combined with Dinesh Karthik, who made 22 not out, to see India home with two balls to spare.

India got off to a blistering start as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan collected 20 runs from the first three overs before accelerating.

They plundered 20 runs from the next over from Nathan Coulter-Nile while Marcus Stoinis bled 22 in the following over.

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To stop the carnage, Aaron Finch brought back Mitchell Starc and the left-arm quick, playing his first 20-over international in more than two years, did not let his captain down, trapping Dhawan lbw for 41 to end the 67-run stand.

Adam Zampa bowled Rohit, who hit two sixes in his 23, in his maiden over and India slumped to 108-4 after KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant fell in successive deliveries.

Kohli added 60 runs with Karthik and sealed the victory with back-to-back fours.

Having won the toss and elected to bat, home captain Finch (28) combined with D'Arcy Short (33) to give Australia a flying start but the hosts could not make the most of it.

They added 68 runs for the opening partnership when Krunal Pandya got into the thick of the action in the ninth over.

The all-rounder caught Finch at short fine leg, before dismissing Short and Ben McDermott off successive deliveries to drag India back into the contest.

Alex Carey denied Pandya a hat-trick but eventually fell to the left-arm spinner after making 27.

Stoinis made a breezy 25 not out down the order as Australia overcame their mid-innings slump and collected 57 runs from the last five overs.

Pandya's 4-36 was the best by a spinner in Australia in Twenty20 Internationals while Kuldeep Yadav also impressed conceding only 19 in a tidy four overs that included Finch's wicket.

Australia, who won the rain-hit series opener in Brisbane, could not manage a single six in their innings against India's eight.

The second match in Melbourne was washed out.

The teams now square off in a four-test series beginning in Adelaide on December 6.

Scoreboard

Australia innings

D'Arcy Short lbw Krunal Pandya 33

Aaron Finch c Krunal Pandya b Kuldeep Yadav 28

Glenn Maxwell c Rohit Sharma b Krunal Pandya 13

Ben McDermott lbw Krunal Pandya 0

Alex Carey c Virat Kohli b Krunal Pandya 27

Chris Lynn Run Out Jasprit Bumrah 13

Marcus Stoinis Not Out 25

Nathan Coulter-Nile Not Out 13

Extras 1b 2lb 0nb 0pen 9w 12

Total: 164-6 (20.0 overs)

Fall of Wickets: 1-68 Finch, 2-73 Short, 3-73 McDermott, 4-90 Maxwell, 5-119 Carey, 6-131 Lynn Did Not Bat : Starc, Tye, Zampa

Bowling Ov Md Rn Wk Econ Ex

Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4 0 33 0 8.25

Khaleel Ahmed 4 0 35 0 8.75 4w

Jasprit Bumrah 4 0 38 0 9.50 1w

Kuldeep Yadav 4 0 19 1 4.75 2w

Krunal Pandya 4 0 36 4 9.00 1w

India innings

Rohit Sharma b Adam Zampa 23

Shikhar Dhawan lbw Mitchell Starc 41

Virat Kohli Not Out 61

Lokesh Rahul c Nathan Coulter-Nile b Glenn Maxwell 14

Rishabh Pant c Alex Carey b Andrew Tye 0

Dinesh Karthik Not Out 22

Extras 0b 1lb 0nb 0pen 6w 7

Total: 168-4 (19.4 overs)

Fall of Wickets: 1-67 Dhawan, 2-67 Sharma, 3-108 Rahul, 4-108 Pant Did Not Bat : Pandya, Kumar, Yadav, Bumrah, Ahmed

Bowling Ov Md Rn Wk Econ Ex

Mitchell Starc 4 0 26 1 6.50 1w

Nathan Coulter-Nile 3 0 40 0 13.33 1w

Marcus Stoinis 1 0 22 0 22.00 1w

Adam Zampa 4 1 22 1 5.50 1w

Glenn Maxwell 4 0 25 1 6.25

Andrew Tye 3.4 0 32 1 8.73 1w

Umpires: Paul Wilson and Gerard Abood

Video: Simon Fry

Match Referee: Jeffrey Crowe