India [ Images ] failed to defend their title in the Twenty20 [ Images ] leg of the Emerging Players Tournament, suffering a 29-run defeat to the Australian Institute of Sports in the final at Brisbane [ Images ] on Thursday.
AIS did not put a foot wrong, as, batting first, they posted an imposing 162 for five, thanks to Moises Henriques's unbeaten 72 off 41 balls and a 33-ball 44 by James Faulkner.
The Australians then came up with disciplined bowling to restrict India to 133 for nine in the stipulated 20 overs.
Cheteswar Pujara waged a lonely battle, but his fighting 38 off 33 went in vain.
For AIS, Mitchell Starc bagged three wickets for just 20 runs while Glenn Maxwell claimed 2 for 22.
Earlier, India medium pacer Vinay Kumar inflicted an early blow on the Australians, dismissing Ben Dunk (9) cheaply in the third over, and then Luke Pomersbach fell to Jaydev Unadkat [ Images ] (5) in the next.
However, the Indians failed to capitalise on the advantage as Nicolas Maddinson, who scored 20 off 25, joined hands with Faulkner to produce a 33-run recovery. Faulkner cracked two fours and as many sixes in his innings.
After Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda [ Images ] dismissed Maddinson in the ninth over, Faulkner got the company of Henriques and the duo added 72 runs on the board.
Henriques, who struck two fours and three sixes, and Jason Floros (8 not out) were at the crease at the end of the AIS innings.
For India, Dinda scalped two wickets while Kumar, Unadkat and Shikhar Dhawan [ Images ] bagged one each.
Chasing 163 to win, the Indian batting line-up failed to put up enough resistance as the AIS bowlers maintained a tight line and length.
Pujara, who struck two fours, was the only Indian to make more than 20 runs, with Vinay Kumar (19 off 18) being the second highest scorer for India.
Kedar Jadav (17) and Pujara tried to push the Indian run-rate up but the 30-run partnership came to an end after the former was clean bowled by Peter George in the 12th over.
Pujara also departed following a misunderstanding between him and Naman Ojha [ Images ] (4), who also headed back to pavilion just after two balls, leaving India struggling at 98 for seven in 14 overs.
The combo of Kumar and Umesh Yadav (10 not out) for the last wicket was simply not enough to steer India home.
Captain Jamie How's 71 and 56 from Dean Brownlie helped the Kiwis post 148 in 18 overs. CJ de Villiers was the only South African bowler to make an impression, claiming three for 29.
In reply, the South Africans threw away a good start and were restricted to 133 for five. Reeza Hendricks and Davey Jacobs hit half-centuries in a stand of 116 but once they departed the innings fell apart.
Neil Wagner (3 for 30) and Michael Bates (2 for 21) were the pick of the Kiwi bowlers.
The teams switch to 50-over mode on Saturday, with New Zealand playing the AIS. They then play India on Monday and South Africa on Wednesday ahead of Friday's final.