PRETORIA: Australia A produced a clinical all-round performance to beat India A by 25 runs to register their victory which ensured their place in the final of the tri-series involving ‘A’ teams on Sunday.
With Australia qualifying for the summit clash, the result of final round robin match between India and South Africa will decide on other finalist.
Opting to bat, Australia A scored 310 for seven riding on Shaun Marsh’s 96 and marauding Glenn Maxwell’s 56-ball 93. Bowlers then came back to dismiss India for 285 in 48.3 overs.
Despite best efforts from openers Rohit Sharma (61, 57 balls, 7×4, 2×6), Murali Vijay (60, 77 balls, 7×4, 1×6) and skipper Cheteshwar Pujara (51, 64 balls, 4×4), Indians were stopped well short of target.
Seamers Josh Hazlewood (3/59) and Moises Henriques (3/24) were the most successful bowlers for Australia.
Young Pervez Rasool’s cameo (27, 23 balls, 3×4) wasn’t good enough to stop the Aussies from beating India for the second time in the tournament.
Indian batsmen started the chase in an impressive fashion with Sharma, who has been in red hot form, attacking the Aussie new ball bowers Hazlewood and Gurinder Sandhu as smacked seven fours along with two sixes in his 57-ball knock.
Sharma launched into Hazlewood hitting him over deep mid-wicket for a six and also got the maximum of Nathan Coultier-Nile. Such was Sharma’s dominance that out of 79 runs added for the opening stand, the Mumbaikar scored 61.
Sharma’s 50 came off 48 balls and this was his third consecutive half-century in the tournament.
Once Sharma was run-out, Vijay playing his first match of the tournament upped the ante in presence of his skipper Pujara. Pujara, who has been out of touch so far in this ‘African Safari’, finally found some form as he played himself in with a half-century.
The paid added 78 runs for the second wicket before Vijay was holed out in the deep off Mitchell Marsh’s bowling. Suresh Raina (6) didn’t stay long and Pujara was also caught by substitute Alex Doolan off Hazlewood’s bowling.
Dinesh Karthok (6) and Stuart Binny (2) also disappointed as India slipped to 217 for six.
Ambati Rayudu (32) started on a promising note but lack of partners forced him to step up and in the process became Hazlewood’s third victim. Once Rayudu was dismissed, the little hope that India had went up in smoke.
Earlier, Maxwell (93, 56 balls, 12×4, 3×6) again tormented the Indian bowlers with his big-hitting prowess in company of another in-form batsman Marsh (96, 107 balls, 9×4, 3×6) as they added 139 runs for the third wicket in only 16.1 overs.
Both batsmen were dismissed in quick succession by burly Karnataka all-rounder Stuart Binny (4/55) who reaped benefits for his wicket-to-wicket bowling. Three of his four scalps were clean bowled and both Marsh and Maxwell missed out on what could have been well-deserved century.
While speedster Shami Ahmed (1/49 from 9 overs) gave a better account of himself, young Siddharth Kaul (0/64 in 9 overs) was carted all over the park. Kaul who loves to hit the deck repeatedly bowled length deliveries and was dispatched to all corners from long-off to deep mid-wicket by the left-handed Marsh.
It was spin duo of Shahbaz Nadeem (1/52 off 10 overs) and Rasool (1/55 off 9 overs) gave initial breakthroughs. While Nadeem removed rival captain Aaron Finch with an arm ball, Rasool forced left-hander Nick Maddinson (12) into play a shot and the resultant leading edge was accepted by the bowler.
Then it was Marsh and Maxwell who sent the bowlers on a leatherhunt. Especially Maxwell, who has grown a liking for this Indian attack having smashed 145 in the last meeting of the two teams. Once the partnership was broken, Australia slipped from 233 for two to 250 for six.
But Coultier-Nile used long handle to good effect by smashing 37 (20 balls, 5×4, 1×6) and added 60 runs for the unfinished eighthw-wicket stand with Mitchell Marsh (34 no, 36 balls, 2×4, 1×6).
Australia A 310/7 in 50 overs (Shaun Marsh 93, Glenn Maxwell 96, Stuart Binny 4/55).
India A 285 in 48.3 overs (Rohit Sharma 61, Murali Vijay 60, Cheteshwar Pujara 51, Moises Henriques 3/22, Josh Hazlewood 3/59). Australia A won by 25 runs.