Mohali - Opener Aaron Finch hit a quickfire 43 before India pegged back Australia to 160-6 in their do-or-die World Twenty20 group stage clash in Mohali on Sunday.
The 29-year-old shared 54 runs for the opening wicket with Usman Khawaja to give Australia a flying start after Steven Smith elected to bat at the Punjab Cricket Association ground.
Both Australia and India need to win to set up a semi-final encounter against the West Indies this week, with a loss on Sunday ending their hopes of World T20 glory.
Khawaja, enjoying a purple patch with the bat, smashed rookie fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah for four boundaries in the second over of the innings.
Finch matched his opening partner in aggression, carting off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for two sixes on the trot as the Aussies raced to 50 runs inside just four overs.
The early onslaught stunned the Indian crowd, which only came to life when Ashish Nehra got rid of the dangerous Khawaja for 26 off 16 balls.
Ashwin gave India the second breakthrough by having David Warner stumped, and in the process he became the first Indian and 12th player in the world to grab 50 wickets in T20 internationals.
Part-time bowler Yuvraj Singh struck with his first ball in the tournament to get rid of Smith for two, before Hardik Pandya dismissed Finch to reduce Australia to 100-4.
Bumrah clipped the stumps of Glenn Maxwell who made 31 off 28 balls, capping a fine turnaround for the bowler after he was whacked for 17 runs in his first over.
Shane Watson, set to retire from international cricket at the end of Australia's campaign in the tournament, remained not out on 18, while wicketkeeper Peter Nevill took 10 runs from the final two balls.