Pretoria: Indian batsmen failed to hold their nerves during slog overs as they lost to Australia A by seven runs in an exciting opening encounter of the Tri-Series tournament between `A` teams here on Thursday.
All-rounder Glenn Maxwell`s magnificent unbeaten 145 off 99 balls helped Australia score a stiff 298 for eight as Cheteshwar Pujara decided to field after winning the toss.
In reply, India were restricted to 291 for eight despite half-centuries from opener Rohit Sharma (66), Suresh Raina (83) and Ambati Rayudu (70). Australia got four points from the match and took their tally to eight points from two matches.
Pacers Nathan Coultier-Nile (3/37 in 10 overs) did a brilliant job at the death as he got two wickets in the 49th over which was a maiden.
India were well within sniffing distance of winning the match as they required 16 from last two overs with in-form Rayudu at the crease.
Rayudu who hit five fours and two sixes in his 56-ball knock was dismissed by Coultier-Nile off the first delivery of the 49th over. The burly Stuart Binny (0) wasted three crucial balls before he became Coultier-Nile`s second victim of that over.
With 16 to get off the last over, it was too much to ask from Mohammed Shami and Siddharth Kaul as they managed only eight runs. Rohit (66, 87 balls, 7x4) again did a fine job upfront and was engaged in three crucial partnerships off 47 with Shikhar Dhawan (15), 46 with Cheteshwar Pujara (29) and 58 with Raina (83, 79 balls, 7x4, 1x6).
At 151 for three, Rayudu joined Raina as the duo added 85 runs in only 12.2 overs for the fourth wicket. Just when it looked that India A were in control, Raina tried to hit Maxwell out of the park only to be holed out in the deep by Cummins. After Raina`s departure, Rayudu tried to keep up the tempo as he hit successive sixes off leggie Fawad Ahmed but couldn`t get the team past finishing line.
Earlier Maxwell`s late blitzkrieg that contained 18 fours and six sixes helped Australia A post a healthy 298 for eight from 152 for eight. Maxwell shared an undefeated 146 run partnership for the ninth wicket with Josh Hazlewood (21).
Maxwell`s hundred came off 60 deliveries.
When Australia`s eighth wicket fell at 152 in the form of Pat Cummins in the 37th over, it looked like as if it will be a walk in the park for Pujara`s men. However Maxwell had other ideas as he attacked the Indian bowlers with great gusto.
Out of his six over boundaries, five were hit off pacers Jaydev Undakat (1/66 off 10 overs) and Siddharth Kaul (0/62 off 8 overs). The duo were guilty of bowling length deliveries outside the off-stump which were picked up by Maxwell and sent soaring over deep extra-cover.
The other six was hit over long-off of left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (2/42)`s blwling who was otherwise steady.
While Indian bowlers kept Aussie top-order under check save Nick Maddinson (52, 56 balls, 4x4, 3x6), who punished the bowlers. Part-time off-spinner Dhawan (2/39) rolled his arm over with some degree of success.
Brief Scores: Australia A 298/8 in 50 overs (Glenn Maxwell 145 no, Nic Maddinson 52)
India A 291/8 (Suresh Raina 83, Ambati Rayudu 70, Rohit Sharma 66, Nathan Coultier-Nile 3/37). Australia A won by 7 runs.