Australia A v India A, Tri-series, Pretoria August 8, 2013

India A choke, Coulter-Nile steals narrow win


Australia A 298 for 8 (Maxwell 145*, Maddinson 52) beat India A 291 for 8 (Raina 83, Rayudu 70, Rohit 66, Coulter-Nile 3-37) by seven runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

India A had been stunned by an incredible assault from Glenn Maxwell, who had smashed an unbeaten 145 off 79 deliveries to take Australia A to 298 from 152 for 8 in the one-day tri-series in South Africa. They had absorbed that unexpected blow and Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma had responded with fifties to put them on course in the stiff chase. They needed 23 from the last four overs with six wickets in hand and Rayudu in flow. However, Nathan Coulter-Nile stepped up, and India A choked. They lost four wickets and managed 15 runs, with Coulter-Nile delivering a double-wicket maiden in the penultimate over. In stark contrast, Maxwell, in the company of Josh Hazlewood, had looted 59 off the last four in a ninth-wicket stand worth 146 in 13.4 overs.

India A's meltdown started when Coulter-Nile conceded just two singles in the 47th over, tying down Dinesh Karthik. Hazlewood then gave away five off the first five balls of the 48th, and trapped Karthik lbw off the last. Coulter-Nile all but sealed the result in the 49th, removing Rayudu for 70 and Stuart Binny for a duck to go with four dot balls. Sixteen off the final over from Hazlewood was going to be too much for the tail, a sign of how quickly and decisively Coulter-Nile had turned the match.

Lalchand Rajput, the India A coach, said losing Karthik and Rayudu off successive deliveries suddenly derailed the innings but believed the side had a lot to take away from the game. "The wickets of Rayudu and Karthik put a lot of pressure on the incoming batsmen, who had no time at all to get themselves in," Rajput told ESPNcricinfo. "Even if they had had a bit of time, things might have been different. But it was a fantastic game. It is not easy to chase around 300 and we got so close. It is a good learning process for the boys."

Rajput praised Maxwell's big-hitting performance, saying that was the reason he had attracted so much interest in the IPL. Maxwell's reputation as a power-hitter and his all-round ability had earned him a surprise reward in February this year, when he was bought by Mumbai Indians for $1 million in the IPL auction. "We all know how hard he can hit the ball. That is why he went for a million dollars in the IPL. He hit some unbelievable shots. I will not hold anything against my bowlers. They had taken all those wickets and brought us back. We had them at 152 for 8 but it was his day today. "

Maxwell almost doubled Australia A's score with No 10 at the other end. He came in at 122 for 5 in the midst of a collapse following a strong beginning and went on club 18 fours and six sixes.

Fast bowlers Mohammed Shami and Jaydev Unadkat had prospered against the Zimbabwe line-up in the recent ODI series with the senior India team. Here, they ran into Maxwell, who hit them for three successive boundaries each, Unadkat suffering that fate twice. The third fast bowler, Punjab's Siddarth Kaul - one of the six India A players not to have travelled to Zimbabwe - was taken apart for three successive sixes in the final over, also the costliest of the innings at 23 runs.

This was easily Maxwell's highest List A score, beating the previous one of 61. Maxwell's assault was notable as much for how long it lasted as for the fact that it arrived with only No 11 left to come in. He had just kickstarted his acceleration when he reached his first fifty off 47 deliveries. He needed 19 more of them to zoom to his hundred, and 13 thereafter to end five short of 150.

India A's spinners had brought them back strongly after Cheteshwar Pujara asked Australia A to bat and watched them build their way to 120 for 2, with Alex Doolan and Nic Maddinson steering the innings. Raina began the collapse when he had Doolan caught by Pujara for 30 in the 26th over. Two balls later, Maddinson was bowled by another part-timer, Shikhar Dhawan, for a brisk 52. Dhawan had Tim Paine stumped in the same over, and two wickets in two balls from left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem followed, before Maxwell took charge.

Rohit and Dhawan, who have opened in India's previous three ODI series, set up the chase with a stand of 47. It was Coulter-Nile who broke through, having Dhawan caught behind. The middle order built partnerships all the way down till the death, the highest being 85 between Raina and Rayudu and the lowest 46 between Pujara and Rohit. While Rohit took 87 balls for his 66, Raina and Rayudu made 83 and 70 at more than a run a ball, not allowing the asking-rate to go much beyond eight an over.

After Raina fell to Maxwell with the score on 236 in the 43rd over, Rayudu seemed to have settled matters when he hit the legspinner Fawad Ahmed for successive sixes in the 46th. However, Coulter-Nile was not prepared to give in.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • uma on August 11, 2013, 8:23 GMT

    @ all haters of rohit. I also dont like why he is kept on selected even he is not playing well. but he making quiet a few knocks which had given hardly any chance to critisize him. he may fail or may not fail later, but now he is delivering well. whom ever the player and what ever the manner the player plays, we need india to win at the end. good luck and all d best for rohits effort.

  • Peter on August 9, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    @sachin_vvsfan. We'll agree to disagree as I think the Aussie pace attack is far better as shown by the way they scaled back the Indian late innings. Maxwell excelled, true, but most of the other batsman there have the capabilities & similar games (although not as destructive as GM's). And I agree with you, Maxwell is nowhere near test standard (IMHO) but he is right up there as one of the most destructive T20 players in the game.

  • Android on August 9, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    ODI are exciting because of the wire finish. India has a lot of positives to take from the match and figure ou3 how to tame a Maxwell and to be miserly at death while bowling!

  • Dummy4 on August 9, 2013, 10:46 GMT

    I am really baffled by this repeated rohit bashing. no matter what he does, few of the expert commentators keep finding fault irt strike rate etc. I frst thought of ignoring these dumb-headed ppl, but then its better to give them a dose of their own medicine. To me d ppl who keep criticising rohit r ignorant/new to cricket or really dumb-headed. so go ahead with ur cynical comments bcos this fantastic player is destined to rule indian cricket for years to come. All the best rohit sharma !

  • Rakesh on August 9, 2013, 9:47 GMT

    @ Shajahan.P - My point was at this level you need to have enough understanding not to waste precious balls in the last 3 overs. Other had gotten out so the one at the crease has responsiility. You can not say the responsibility to win matches is only on the top order. He is defintely no worth in the top 5. If he is not keeping, I would not have him in the XI. There are much better batsman available.

  • Android on August 9, 2013, 9:37 GMT

    India A side should simply be that and not a platform to give senior team players to get used to South african conditions ør give talented but out of form players match practice. It is so unfair to the emerging talent and beats the whole point of A tours.

  • sri on August 9, 2013, 9:21 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha If it was really a flat track then you must really worry because your batsman scored paltry 182/8 against Indian Rookies . And that also answers your first question. It was more of finding new bowlers rather than the batsmen

    Maxwell is no Test Quality (I might have angered some Aussie fans here) @Chris_P I would say this India A side is better( in shorter formats) than Aus A side.Take out Maxwell and you can see the difference.I wouldn't read too much in to Maxwells innings either. Fact is there are more positives for India A than Aus A side

  • Nish on August 9, 2013, 9:17 GMT

    @Rowayton - the reason why you find these well-known names in India's top six in this A team who have played Tests/ODI's recently is because these batsmen have intentionally been chosen to give them some experience of SA conditions before the tour at the year-end. As for our 'young 'uns', our under-19 team has been doing very well, thank you winning series against their Australia, NZ & SL counterparts very recently etc.

  • Nish on August 9, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    Even being objective, some of this Rohit bashing is a bit ridiculous! In the Indian team where your have a number of attacking batsmen, you need atleast one player to try & hold up one end scoring at a decent rate - which Rohit does very ably & clearly has the ability to up his strike rate later, depending on the match situation. If he too batted as aggressively right from the beginning like Dhawan does & got out for a low score, these same detractors will still slag him off! Give the guy a break, folks - you can see how hard he is trying, doesn't give his wicket away cheaply these days & can see how dejected he is when he gets out. For a guy who is so comfortable against pace bowling in overseas conditions, can we really afford to lose such talent???

  • James on August 9, 2013, 8:40 GMT

    That's more like a full national team for India. I thought A team series were for the up and comers or fringe players?

    Must have been a very flat track. How else could Raina have scored runs against quicks like Cummins and Starc?