India A have proved victorious in a fitting finale to the quadrangular one-day series at Darwin’s Marrara Cricket Ground, despite a timely ton from Australia A captain Cameron White.
Chasing 275 for victory, the tourists were in a spot of bother at 6-182 in the 37th over when Akshar Patel joined Rishi Dhawan out in the middle.
The pair combined for a partnership of 93 from 75 balls to complete the win with eight balls to spare, their sixth consecutive victory since losing to the Aussies on the opening day of the series.
However, the conclusion of the match threatened to be overshadowed by Amabti Rayudu’s response to being given out lbw earlier in the run chase, as seen in the video below.
The incident follows what appeared to be a heated exchange in the previous clash between the two sides involving India A captain Robin Uthappa and Australia A opener Phil Hughes that set the scene for the tournament’s final.
Earlier, White’s day got off to a perfect start by winning the toss and electing to bat on what looked to be a beautiful deck for exactly that.
Hughes and the skipper certainly made it look that way as they set about composing a formidable opening partnership.
The left-hander’s purple patch continued, bringing up another half-century after scores of 202no and 58 in his previous two performances.
He departed soon after reaching his latest milestone, ending a 146-run stand with White.
The loss of his opening partner didn’t slow White down, with the Victoria veteran reaching his seventh list-A century in 234 matches.
By the time he was through lofting them over cover, down the ground and all around, the 30-year-old had scored a career-best in the format with 137 off 150 balls.
It was a welcome reward for White who had failed to leave his mark on the tournament up to this point.
“I felt as though I’ve still been hitting the ball really well,” the skipper told media after play.
“I found the wickets really tricky early in the series to be honest, especially at the top of the order.
“I’ve felt in pretty good form but I just haven’t made as many runs as I would have liked.”
White’s dismissal came as the Aussie charge was stalling in the latter overs, with his side losing 4-22 between the 40th and 47th over.
What looked to be a score heading upwards of 300 ended up at 5-274, with some late striking from Ben Cutting (35no off 21) helping to redeem some of the lost momentum.
“It was probably just a few under par,” White continued.
“We probably needed closer to 300 to really put some pressure on with a flat wicket.
“We lost a bit of momentum just before I got out and just afterwards, so that was a bit disappointing from my end.”
India A’s chase got off to a poor start with the loss of early wickets to bring the home side right back into the game.
It was the wicket of Rayudu that caused the most attention, though his downfall brought Kedar Jadhav to the crease with Manoj Tiwary.
The two put on 82 for the fourth wicket, with Jadhav producing his third consecutive 50 of the tournament to lead the way with 78.
A couple more wickets to the Aussies kept it interesting, before Mitch Marsh failed to hold on to a tough chance from Dhawan at mid-off when he was on just 12.
“I was very close, it went straight in and straight out,” Marsh said with a hint of unease after the match.
“It probably cost us there a fair bit, but that happens and I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
White raised eyebrows among the small but vocal crowd with his decision to bring on young leg-spinner Cameron Boyce to bowl the 45th over of the innings.
Dhawan and Patel took 15 runs off the over, but White believes it was a risk worth taking.
“I just thought we had to roll the dice,” White said. “I thought that was the risk we had to take at the time to try and get a couple of wickets.
“They played him well and I thought he actually bowled a pretty good over.”
While it was a disappointing end to the series for Australia A, there was a silver lining for Marsh by being named the Player of the Series for his 79 runs and 11 wickets in his five matches.
Whether or not it is enough to earn a spot in the squad for the ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe later this month will be revealed by the National Selection Panel on Monday.
Speaking with cricket.com.au during the week, selector Mark Waugh said Marsh was one of the players to impress during the two-week series, although the young allrounder wasn’t ready to start packing his bags just yet.
“I came here with the intentions of chipping in wherever I could,” Marsh said.
“Fingers crossed I make that squad and if I do hopefully I can take the opportunity.”
In the play-off for third place at Gardens Oval, South Africa A came out on top by seven wickets against the National Performance Squad.
Alexander Keath (55 off 96 balls) and Travis Head (60 off 61) led the way for the young Aussie side, posting 9-252 from their 50 overs.
Reeza Hendricks smashed 90 off 75 balls to make life difficult for the NPS bowlers with Keath the only multiple wicket-taker as the visitors cruised to victory in the 39th over.
Full scorecard: Click here
India A now return home after a month of cricket in Australia, while the home side now turns their attention to Townsville with two four-day matches against South Africa A starting this Thursday.
For all your news, scores and video throughout the Australia A tour, stay right here on cricket.com.au.