India B cruised to a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Australia A in the quadrangular series final on Wednesday, 29 August in Bengaluru.
Despite the outfield at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium being slower than usual, the hosts barely broke a sweat in chasing down the target of 226 against Travis Head and Co as Mayank Agarwal, Shubman Gill and Manish Pandey scored half-centuries.
There was an early stutter when opener Ishan Kishan received a nasty blow to his finger from a Billy Stanlake delivery and retired hurt in the seventh over.
But Kishan's opening partner, Agarwal, did well to keep the Indians in front, scoring 69 with a display of excellent strokeplay and helping the scoreboard get to 110 in the company of Gill, who came in at No.3.
Gill was caught splendidly at mid-wicket off the second delivery he faced off Stanlake, but a no-ball call from the third umpire gave him a reprieve. Pandey, who took 10 deliveries to get off the mark after coming in at the fall of Agarwal's wicket, eventually scored his first runs with a thundering straight six in the 23rd over. He settled in fine thereafter, stitching an unbroken 120-run partnership with Gill to take India B past the target with relative ease. Gill ended with an unbeaten 66, while Pandey, the Indian skipper, batted brilliantly for his 54-ball 73*.
"This tournament has been good to me. The way the boys played in the four games was commendable. We bowled really well to get them all-out for 225 today. I had a month off, came in with a settled mindset. I wanted to stay at the wicket and knew I would get runs," said Pandey after the game.
Earlier, after winning the toss and fielding first, Pandey and his team shot out Australia for 225 in 47.5 overs. The pick of the bowlers was leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal, who returned figures of 3/50 in his 10 overs. The 24-year-old was on a hat-trick after dismissing Alex Carey and Jack Wildermuth off consecutive deliveries in the 42nd over, but was thwarted by Michael Neser.
The Australian total was powered by batting efforts from Carey and D'Arcy Short, both the left-handers notching up half-centuries.
Short justified his selection in the final with a 77-ball 72. At one point, the 28-year-old looked primed to score his maiden hundred in the sub-continent. However, he played a rash shot against Deepak Hooda to return to the pavilion in the 29th over. The opener's disappointment was apparent in his uncharacteristically animated reaction to the dismissal.
Short and Usman Khawaja put up a 50-run stand for the first wicket, before India fought back with two quick dismissals. Carey took the Australian innings in to fourth gear as soon as he came in at No.5, smashing three fours in four overs to take the attack to the hosts. However, he slowed down after Short's wicket, taking his time to score his fifty. He ended on 53.
"Credit goes to India B. They played exceptionally well today. We would've batted first (if we had won the toss), as the wicket was exceptional to bat on. Some guys were in good form, unfortunately, we didn't get the desired results," said Australian skipper Travis Head, who could only manage a three-ball duck in the final.
Solid bowling spells from Gopal, Hooda and Navdeep Saini helped India sink their teeth in to make a comeback in the final 10 overs of the innings. This helped them restrict the visitors to a below-par total, which was chased down with relative ease.
Elsewhere, Shreyas Iyer and Ambati Rayudu scored half-centuries to take India A to a 124-run victory in the third-place play-off against South Africa A in Alur, on the outskirts of Bengaluru.