Pretoria: After three run-feasts, India A's big hitters were reigned by an honest Australia A bowling attack in the final of the triangular series at the LC de Villiers Oval on Wednesday. Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara were removed early, Suresh Raina was not allowed to flourish and Dinesh Karthik was cut off on 73 but Australia's biggest achievement was keeping the in-form man, Shikhar Dhawan, to 62. All this meant that India A were bowled out for 243 in 49.2 overs, which given the nature of the surface appears to be decidedly sub-par.
Rohit, back into the attack after sitting out the last match, was the first to fall for 6 in the third over when he was rapped on the pads by the accurate and persevering Josh Hazlewood. Pujara went next for 1, driving Glenn Maxwell's first delivery to his Australian counterpart Aaron Finch on the off side. At 34 for 2, India had lost two of their most experienced batsman.
Dhawan, at this stage looking good on 24 off 17 balls, was joined by Karthik who began with some punchy shots. Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter-Nile were pulled for fours in successive overs and Gurinder Sandhu steered to the third man boundary as India began counter-punching. When legspinner Fawad Ahmed came in to bowl the 14th over, Karthik hit his first two deliveries for fours.
Australia snuck in a few tidy overs from Maxwell and Moises Henriques but Karthik opened up again, smashing Maxwell past cover and sweeping Ahmed to join Dhawan with a half-century. However, Dhawan departed on 62 when he played at Henriques away from the body and nicked to Tim Paine in the 24th over.
From here Australia's bowlers made inroads, taking three wickets for 24 runs. On 73, Karthik too played a loose shot and dragged Coulter-Nile onto his stumps, while Mitchell Marsh prized out Raina (17) with a yorker on the stumps. (166 for 5).
Wriddhiman Saha, playing his first match of the series and first competitive game since the IPL in early May, struggled to get going. This allowed Australia's medium-pacers to tighten their grip. India did not find the boundary for 40 deliveries, a barren run broken in the 43rd over when Saha drove Sandhu through the covers.
But India did not get the late surge they desired, instead surrendering their last five wickets for just 14 runs. Ambati Rayudu (34) and Saha (31) fell in successive overs, Ishwar Pandey (1) became Coulter-Nile's second wicket and Hazlewood added Mohammed Shami (3) to finish with 3 for 31 from his ten. Coulter-Nile finished the innings with 3 for 35 when Parvez Rasool slashed a catch to Hazlewood at third man.
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