India A romp to tri-series win
Cheteshwar Pujara (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - India A were the more formidable side in the final of the Cricket South Africa (CSA) triangular series.
They emphatically beat their Australian counterparts by 50 runs to clinch the match at the TUKS Oval in Pretoria on Wednesday.
"The way we bowled was exceptional, our bowling unit did a really good job," captain, Cheteshwar Pujara said, very happy with his side’s performance.
"The hunger to be successful as a unit has also helped us through.
"Most of the players have played for their country so we had a lot of experience to lean on.
"It was good to see the way that the whole team contributed to the win," he commented.
India won the toss and naturally opted to bat first.
The Australians bowled extremely well on the dry and flat wicket.
They kept their deliveries tight and restricted India to 243 with four balls left to play in the innings.
The bowlers had a good start, taking two wickets in the first six overs (Sharma 6, Pujara 1), but the 108-run third-wicket partnership of Shikhar Dhawan (62) and Dinesh Karthik (73) pulled the innings back in India’s favour.
Ambiti Rayudu (34) and Wriddhiman Saha (31) also shared a 63-run, sixth-wicket partnership to further pile on the runs before the tail failed to add anything more substantial.
Australia’s Joshua Hazlewood and Nathan Coulter-Nile were the leading wicket takers, taking 3/31 and 3/35 respectively.
Australia’s batting reply was not good enough; no one got a proper start with Aaron Finch and Moises Henriques the only ones to reach 20 before Tim Paine (47) and Hazlewood (30) entered the fray.
They hung in for a 50 partnership for the eighth wicket but it was too late to save the innings.
Australia were bowled out for 193.
Finch is disappointed to have come so far only to lose in the final, "There aren’t any excuses," he said.
"We bowled extremely well to keep them to 243 on such a good batting wicket but we started off poorly with the bat.
"I probably led us to that downfall and it was a disappointing way to end such a good tournament," he lamented.
It is not all doom and gloom however; there are a few positives that he and his side have taken from this experience, "I thought we played some really good cricket throughout especially coming out of our off-season.
"There have been some really good individual performances and that’s what we aimed for when we arrived here.
"There are some guys who came in wanting to show selectors that they deserve a place in the national team and a few of them have given them something to think about," he concluded.
India A will now turn their attention towards their four-day (unofficial) Test series against South Africa A.
Pujara is confident his side will produce the goods once again.
"We are prepared, we have played in South African conditions and are aware of the conditions in Rustenburg," he said.
"We came here knowing we also have a four-day Test series to play and I am confident we will do our best."