Virat Kohli broke his 2017 drought against Australia and renewed his fiery relationship with India's fierce foes during the second ODI in Kolkata.
Kohli fell just short of what would have been his 31st ODI century – bowled by Nathan Coulter-Nile for 92 at Eden Gardens – which would have seen his surpass the record of Australian legend Ricky Ponting.
During his 107-ball stay he also had a lengthy exchange with wicketkeeper Matthew Wade that was partly picked up by the stump microphones of the host broadcaster.
The conversation between the two players came after a delivery from Marcus Stoinis bounced in front of Wade and struck the gloveman on the thumb, with Indian pair Kohli and Kedhar Yadav stealing a bye as Wade, obviously in pain, struggled to quickly return the ball to the stumps.
While Kohli couldn’t quite reach three figures, his innings did represent the end of a run drought against Australia this year.
It was the first time in seven innings against Australia in 2017 that he has scored more than 20; he returned 0, 13, 12, 15 and 6 in their Test series earlier in February-March and was dismissed for a duck in the series opener in Chennai last Sunday.
But he was back to his best on Thursday, despite oppressive heat that tested the stamina of all players.
Kohli has struggled against the Aussies this year, but Australia remains one of his most productive opponents; he has now scored 12 tons against them in all formats (six in Tests, six in ODIs) and his ODI average against them is an impressive 54.70.
Kohli was a lightning rod for controversy in the Test series between the two sides earlier this year, the skipper dominating the headlines despite his low return with the bat.
Before this series began, former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie urged the Australians not to engage in verbals with the Indian captain.
"I don't think Australia need to get into a verbal battle or get into staring competitions with Kohli," Gillespie said.
"The best way to put him under pressure is through disciplined bowling.
Having come to the wicket in the sixth over, Kohli formed a 102-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane before the opener was run out by Hilton Cartwright for 55.
Rahane had started brightly, striking five boundaries in the space of just 13 balls from Coulter-Nile, who'd got the early wicket of Rohit Sharma thanks to a sharp return catch.
Kohli, by contrast to Rahane, was given an early examination from Coulter-Nile, who had dismissed him in Chennai. The Indian ducked into a short delivery second ball and was struck on the shoulder and then edged his next ball wide of third slip.
He also appeared to mistime his shots early on but found his range with three boundaries off former IPL teammate Kane Richardson - two through cover and one a pull shot to square leg.
He scored five boundaries in bringing up his half-century from 60 deliveries and appeared on track for three figures until the impressive Coulter-Nile defied the humid conditions to get the breakthrough.
Australia's Qantas Tour of India
Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.
India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur
October 1: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi
October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati
October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad