Glenn Maxwell squandered a golden chance to prove Australia's saviour as India bowled out the hosts for 230 in the ODI series decider at the MCG.
Maxwell's brain fade denied a wobbling Australia a much-needed restorative partnership and has left India well-placed to claim a 2-1 series victory.
Shaun Marsh (39), Usman Khawaja (34) and Maxwell (26) all failed to build on promising starts, forcing Peter Handscomb (58) to fight a lone hand with the tail.
Legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal led the way for India, celebrating his ODI recall at the expense of mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav with career-best figures of 6-42 from 10 overs.
Sensing opportunity in overcast conditions which caused a brief rain delay, Virat Kohli opted to bowl first after winning the toss.
The tourists again made early inroads, extending their domination of Australian openers Alex Carey and Aaron Finch into a third consecutive game.
Both fell cheaply to swing king Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the latter trapped lbw on 14 to cap off a miserable summer with the bat across all three formats.
Chahal then struck twice in his first over to remove Marsh and Khawaja, who had combined for a 73-run partnership.
Marsh, having scored four centuries in his previous eight ODI innings, looked on track for another big score before coming down the pitch to a wide delivery, failing to connect with the bat and being stumped by MS Dhoni.
Khawaja's dismissal was even softer, badly mistiming an attempt to play to the leg side and scooping the ball gently back to Chahal.
Marcus Stoinis's dismissal on 10 brought Maxwell to the crease in the 30th over - the earliest Australia's No.7 had been required for the series.
Debate has raged about whether Maxwell should bat higher but his dismissal to Shami, squeezing an ill-judged pull shot to a brilliantly diving Bhuvneshwar at deep fine leg, will do his case no favours.
Chasing their first ODI series win in two years, Australia named Billy Stanlake and Adam Zampa in place of Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Lyon.
No overs were lost during a brief downpour which caused play to be halted for 20 minutes after just two balls.
Time will be made up during the innings break, which has been cut to 30 minutes.
Australian Associated Press