Dhawan, Akshar guide India A to title in tense finish
India A 275 for 6 (Jadhav 78, Dhawan 56*, Tiwary 50) beat Australia A 274 for 5 (White 137, Hughes 51, Kulkarni 3-51) by four wickets
Rishi Dhawan and Akshar Patel held their nerve during a counterattacking partnership of 93 in 12.3 overs for the seventh wicket to stun Australia A in the Quadrangular Series final at Marrara Oval. The target of 275 looked distant when India A had slumped to 51 for 3, and later to 182 for 6, but Australia's bowlers struggled to dislodge Akshar and Dhawan, both promising allrounders, and India completed the chase with more than an over to spare.
That India got to a fighting position after the initial hiccup was thanks to Manoj Tiwary and Kedar Jadhav, who struck half-centuries. The four individual performances overshadowed Cameron White's efforts earlier in the day, when he scored 137 to take Australia to a competitive total.
Dhawan and Akshar came together after Jadhav fell for 78 in the 37th over, slicing Ben Cutting to short third man. Dhawan had a few close calls when he played forceful shots in the air and was lucky the ball dropped just short of the fielders. Australia paid for not converting those half chances. At the end of the 39th over, the required rate had risen above seven, and though the early part of the partnership didn't feature too many boundaries, Dhawan and Akshar ensured they stayed in the game by keeping dot balls to a minimum.
The real acceleration began in the 45th over, when India needed 45. The legspinner Cameron Boyce leaked 15 in an over as Akshar launched him over long-on and then slogged him to deep midwicket for a four. It brought the equation down to a run a ball and India collected a boundary in each of the next four overs to close the door on the Australians. Dhawan was harsh on the seamer Kane Richardson, reaching his fifty with a paddle down to fine leg. Akshar scored the winning runs with a cut to the point boundary off Clint McKay in the 49th over.
India had begun the chase nervously, losing their top three by the 11th over. Ambati Rayudu was the third wicket to fall, but he didn't appear convinced with the lbw decision off Cutting. Jadhav and Tiwary helped India recover with a steady stand of 82 in 16 overs. Cutting ended the stand when Tiwary hooked a bouncer to long leg, falling for 50 off 75 balls. Jadhav reached his fifty off only 48 balls and his positive batting kept India in the hunt. Sanju Samson's run-out gave Australia the edge, but the well-set Jadhav remained crucial to India's chances. His departure tested the mettle of the allrounders, who were not intimidated by the asking rate.
Australia had been primed for a total in excess of 300 after winning the toss, considering the start provided by the openers White and Phillip Hughes. The pair put on 146 in just under 27 overs before Hughes pulled a short ball off Dhawal Kulkarni to short fine leg for 51. White raced to his century in the 31st over and he fell in the 44th, hitting ten fours and five sixes. The seamers restricted the hosts towards the later stages of the innings, with Kulkarni getting White caught at long-on and then yorking Moises Henriques.
Mitchell Marsh holed out to deep midwicket the following over as Australia looked to regain lost ground. Cutting's brisk 35 off 21 balls took Australia to 274, but it wasn't enough to sink India, who took the title with their sixth consecutive win on tour.