Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja - a pair of comfortable old shoes

Khawaja on a very 'satisfying' maiden ODI hundred (3:23)

The Australia batsman says the experience of having played in India for the Australian A team a few years ago helped him do well in Ranchi on Friday (3:23)

Each time Aaron Finch or one of his team-mates get to a press conference, reporters take a jab at the captain's wretched form.

One of eve of his 100th ODI, the first match of the series in Hyderabad, a reporter asks Finch if he's the real captain. Finch asks the reporter to speak loud and clear. Then he replies, "No, no, I'm the captain."

Nathan Coulter-Nile says Finch hasn't been "grumpy" at not making enough runs. Adam Zampa says they are very sure that Finch will turn it around for Australia.

Finch has also got the backing of his coach Justin Langer and his predecessor Darren Lehmann.

And in the third ODI, Finch repays the faith with a 99-ball 93 - his first 50-plus score in 22 limited-overs international innings. He combined with Usman Khawaja, who struck his maiden ODI hundred, to forge a 193-run opening stand - the fourth highest for Australia in India.

On a day when it was confirmed that Steven Smith and David Warner would not be available for the upcoming five-match ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE, Finch and Khawaja showed Australia the way in Ranchi.

However, in the early exchanges, Finch was all at sea against the skiddy pace and seam movement of Mohammed Shami. He managed just one run in the first 12 balls he faced from Shami. However, Khawaja eased the pressure by picking off crisp flicks and punches.

What makes them tick? Familiarity, of course.

"I've known Finchy for a long time, and we're of the same age," Khawaja said at the post-match press conference. "We've played Under-16s against each other and we've played Under-19s with each other. "We're on the same page and understand each other's batting style, so that makes it easier."

Finch then immediately went after Kuldeep Yadav's left-arm wristspin, swatting him to the short leg-side boundaries for a pair of fours. He was more severe on Kedar Jadhav's low-arm darts, plundering him for three sixes - all in the arc between wide long-on and deep midwicket.

Khawaja, on his part, collared Ravindra Jadeja with his variety of sweeps before simply riding in Finch's slipstream.

From being on 31 off 42 balls, Finch sprinted to 51-ball half-century. He looked set for a three-figure score, but Kuldeep denied him in the 32nd over when he straightened one off the pitch and pinned him in front for 93.

"We were just batting, to be honest. We weren't thinking too far ahead," Khawaja said. "Finchy was batting beautifully. He has obviously had a lot of talk about him and he showed his class out there. I thought he batted beautifully in Nagpur. But he showed his class today and deserved a hundred today, but unfortunately didn't get it. When Aaron Finch is firing, Australian one-day cricket is usually going pretty well.

"When Kuldeep came on, I knew and he knew he was hitting to the short side with the spin. When he took him on that first over, it was obvious he could clear the rope pretty easily with that short boundary.

"So, as soon as I got any strike, I was just trying to get a single and give him as much strike as possible. That's just a partnership - it's how you work as batsmen, you sort of understand what the other guy is trying to do. I think Finchy was the same with [Ravindra] Jadeja, probably a bit harder for him to go harder at Jadeja at the start - and I probably took a few more risks then."

Finch fell short of a hundred, but Khawaja glided to the landmark with a neat glance to fine leg off Jadeja in the 37th over. The celebration, which included a gentle raising of the bat and a hug with Glenn Maxwell, was rather subdued, but Khawaja played up the significance of the knock, especially after having been run-out on 98 in the Caribbean in July 2016.

"Yeah it's huge," he beamed. "The first one is always hardest - no matter what you're playing. I found the same thing in Test cricket and same thing in one-day cricket. I got that 98 before a few years ago, it was frustrating and disappointing."

In that game in St Kitts in 2016, Khawaja had spilled two early chances in the field, but has since worked on his fitness. Last year, he dropped seven kilos, made runs for Australia A in India, and then batted for more than eight hours against a spin-heavy Pakistan attack to salvage an unlikely draw in Dubai.

A maiden ODI hundred against a full-strength Indian team has enhanced his reputation as one of the most improved players against spin in the subcontinent, but where will be fit into the side once Warner and Smith return?

A qualified pilot, Khawaja is expected to travel well in the UAE too. If he can continue to rack up the big runs - he is currently the second-highest run-getter in the ODI series in India - he can establish a compelling case for his inclusion in Australia's World Cup squad.