India A 243 (Karthik 73, Hazlewood 3-31, Coulter-Nile 3-35) beat Australia A 193 (Paine 47, Nadeem 3-34) by 50 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It was only a shade over half of what they showed they were capable of - 243 instead of 433 - but India A's bowlers defended it to win the tri-series. In doing so, they bowled Australia A out for the lowest total of the week-long tournament, which has been played at a small ground on flat pitches and was, until today, a struggle for the bowlers.
Australia A's attack showed what discipline could do as they reined in India A from 141 for 2 after 23 overs to 243 all out. Through tight lines and fairly full lengths, they ensured India A only posted two partnerships higher than 20. Their last five wickets fell for 14 runs as they recorded the third-lowest total of the tournament.
Through a display of inept stroke-making and poor shot selection, Australia A's line-up did themselves no favours on a surface that finally showed a few sparks of life. India A's quicks were able to extract slight extra bounce but it was not a strip that justified Australia A's dismal showing in what should have been the event's climax.
Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch seemed determine to polish off the total in quick time. Marsh drove Mohammed Shami powerfully for four while Finch charged Suresh Raina, who opened the bowling, for a six and then a four in successive overs.
The big hitting soon cost them. Finch tried to heave Shami down the ground but missed, and the ball found its way into the massive gap between bat and pad to bowl him. Shami got Marsh out to a similar shot - the batsman tried to pull him over mid-on but found Cheteshwar Pujara instead.
Despite being two down early on, the Australian approach did not change. Glenn Maxwell took on Ishwar Pandey and enjoyed fleeting success before pulling off Raina and falling in a manner similar to Marsh. At 50 for 3, Australia A needed consolidation but India sensed opportunity.
When Nic Maddinson got a healthy edge off Pandey, Raina leapt up at slip to pluck the ball out of the sky. And when Mitchell Marsh went too far down from the non-striker's end after thinking of a sneaky single, Rohit Sharma was quick to get to the ball and ran him out. At 53 for 5, the only thing left for Australia A was to find a dignified way to end their challenge.
They were in danger of missing out on that ending when Moises Henriques and Nathan Coulter-Nile both fell to Shahbaz Nadeem, the former edging to Raina, the latter being stumped by some distance. But Tim Paine and Josh Hazlewood batted manfully in an eight-wicket stand of 54 before Hazlewood became Nadeem's third victim. Wriddhiman Saha showed quick reflexes to pull off a second stumping in a match where his keeping stood out for its efficiency.
Paine quietly approached a half-century but was bowled for 47 in the 45th over. Although Australia's lower order already had too much to do, with him out, they simply marked time to the end.
Earlier, India lost A Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara early on but man-of-the-moment Shikhar Dhawan was on hand to take control. He drove the first ball he faced for four, was strong down the ground and dispatched anything pitched up. In a bid to stem the flow, Australia A resorted to a short-ball barrage but Dinesh Karthik's pull shot was up to the task.
The pair put on 108 runs for the third wicket and kept India A's run-rate above six an over to sound a warning that a big total could be on the cards again. Australia A hauled them in after Dhawan reached for a Henriques delivery and was caught behind in the 24th over. Kartik was bowled by Nathan Coluter-Nile in the 29th over and Suresh Raina was dismissed cheaply three overs later.
Ambati Rayudu, who edged a couple of times before settling in, and Wriddiman Saha rebuilt slowly. They did not find the boundary for 36 balls between the 36th and 42nd over, which slowed India A down, and Rayudu was bowled as he tried to accelerate, heaving and missing against a straight Hazlewood ball.
Saha drove with confidence but when he tried to go aerial, he looped one to Maxwell at point to leave the lower order in charge of the final five-over surge.
Hazlewood and Coulter-Nile did not give India A's lower order much opportunity to score and took four wickets, including Saha in that time. They bowled full and straight to limit scoring. India A posted just 12 runs in the last 4.2 overs and their total appeared below-par but eventually, it turned out to be more than enough.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent