Opener Ajinkya Rahane's classy 92 went in vain as India slumped to a four-wicket defeat against South Africa in their fourth 50-over match of the Emerging Players Tournament in Brisbane, on Sunday.
Put in to bat, India made 271 for six, thanks mainly to Rahane's 120-ball 92, which he made with the help of five fours and a six. Naman Ojha (48), captain S Badrinath (44) and Abhishek Nayar (42) were the other notable contributors.
In reply, South Africa made 274 for six in 48.3 overs to win the match comfortably with three players -- Stein van Zyl (60), Vaughn van Jaarsveld (50) and Farhaan Behardien (50) -- scoring a half-century each at the Albury Oval.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the pick of Indian bowlers with figures of three for 39 while Pradeep Sangwan, Badrinath and Virat Kohli scalped one wicket each.
The Indians were in for a chance to win the match after they reduced South Africa to 56 for two, but the Proteas third wicket stand of 82 runs between van Zyl and captain van Jaarsveld changed the complexion of the game.
Then a 64-run fifth wicket partnership between van Zyl and Behardien shut the door on the Indians, who had lost by 10 runs to the same opponents in their first 50-over match of the tournament on July 21.
Earlier, Rahane and Ojha shared 100 runs for the opening wicket to give India a solid start. They consolidated further with Rahane and Badrinath sharing a 86-run stand for the second wicket.
But, Rahane's departure triggered a mini collapse with India being reduced to 200 for five before Nayar and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Shah shared a 62-run partnership for the sixth wicket to take India past 270.
This was India's third 50-over defeat in the tournament. The Badrinath-led Indian side had also been beaten by the Australian Institute of Sports on July 23.
India, however, won their last match against New Zealand on Friday.