Australian captain Steve Smith who has the very big task of winning the match, let alone winning the series was least bothered by the absence of Dhawan. At home, this was his second score of zero in ODIs.
Chasing a revised target of 164 in 21 overs after rain delays, Australia were frustrated by wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav who shared five wickets between them.
Their only apparent weakness, it seems, lies in their batting. "Ajinkya Rahane plays in middle order in ODIs and tests and then he has opened in the ODIs as well".
India were in a spot of bother at 64-4, when Dhoni walked out to bat on the 17th over, with Kedar Jadhav at the other end.
Travis Head (5) became Pandya second scalp of the day as he gave away an easy catch to Dhoni in the seventh over of the innings. In their defense of 270 in Rajkot, South Africa stole the game from an improbable situation.
Dhoni continued his strong form from Sri Lankan tour and added crucial 88-ball 79 runs with his willow.
Confidence is an influential factor in sport. They will stretch the hosts, confront the otherwise accepted sub continental meeting and above all - put all their efforts behind the Team India for its home run. The question is, who will take the new ball?
Problem is, Rahane would be again left out the day Dhawan returns to opening the batting for India.
Maxwell's drop on Tuesday was one of four simple chances missed by the Australians in their match against a Board President's XI, leading coach David Saker to demand a lift in standards. There is a forecast for thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon.
India beat Australia by 26 runs via Duckworth-Lewis method in the rain-affected match to go 1-0 up in the series.
Recently Virat Kohli leads the team India and they won three test matches, five ODI's and one T20 match. Though there is no confirmation on the issue, well-placed sources indicate that the young spinner is "most likely" to miss the first ODI.
"It's not ideal. You always want to take catches".
In his first over back, the 28th of the innings, Coulter-Nile duly produced the edge for his captain, but Smith was up too early at slip, and let it through for four runs.
Dhoni was also complemented well by pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar who remained unbeaten on 32 off 30 balls and, more importantly, forged another vital half century partnership for the seventh wicket.