New Delhi: India`s title defence in Twenty20 leg of the Emerging Players Tournament lay in tatters after they suffered a 29-run defeat against Australian Institute of Sports in the final at Brisbane.
AIS did not put a foot wrong as batting first they posted an imposing 162 for five, thanks to Moises Henriques` unbeaten 72 off 41 balls and a 33-ball 44 by James Faulkner.
The Australians then came up with some disciplined bowling performance to restrict India to 133 for nine in the stipulated 20 overs.
Cheteswar Pujara waged a lonely battle but his fighting 38 off 33 went in vain as the match slipped out of their hand.
For AIS, Mitchell Starc bagged three wickets for just 20 runs while Glenn Maxwell claimed two by giving away 22.
Earlier, India medium pacer Vinay Kumar inflicted an early blow on the AIS by removing Ben Dunk (9) cheaply in the third over and then Luke Pomersbach fell prey to Jaydev Unadkat (5) in the next over.
However, the Indians failed to capitalise on the advantage as Nicolas Maddinson, who scored 20 off 25, joined hands with Faulkner to produce a 33-run recovery. Faulkner cracked two fours and as many sixes in his innings.
After Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda removed Maddinson in the ninth over, Faulkner got the company of Henriques and the duo added 72 runs on the board.
Henriques, who struck two fours and three sixes, and Jason Floros (8 not out) remained on the crease at the end of AIS innings.
For India, Dinda scalped two wickets while Kumar, Unadkat and Shikhar Dhawan bagged one each.
Chasing 163 to win, the Indian batting line-up failed to build enough resistance as the AIS bowlers maintained tight line and length.
Pujara, who struck two fours, was the only Indian to make more than 20 runs, with Vinay Kumar (19 off 18) being the second highest scorer for India.
Both the opening batsmen Dhawan (6) and Parthiv Patel (9) returned to the dugout cheaply, followed by Ajinkya Rahane (12) and Manish Pandey (11).
Kedar Jadav (17) and Pujara tried to push the Indian run-rate up but the 30-run partnership came to an end after the former was clean bowled by Peter George in the 12th over.
Pujara also departed following a misunderstanding between him and Naman Ojha (4), who also headed back to pavilion just after two balls, leaving India struggling at 98 for seven in 14 overs.
A combo of Kumar and Umesh Yadav (10 n.o.) for the last wicket was simply not enough to drive India home.