Opener Shikhar Dhawan was back amongst the runs with a brisk 52 off 43 balls but it wasn't enough to get India 'A' over the line against South Africa 'A' in a rain-hit unofficial fourth ODI, ending the visitors' losing streak, in Thiruvananthapuram, on Thursday.
South Africa 'A' pacemen Anrich Nortje and Marco Jansen shared three wickets each, triggering a middle-order collapse to help the visitors win the game by four runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
The game, which was extended to a reserve day, resumed on Thursday afternoon after another delay to due to rain and wet outfield with India requiring 137 more runs in 17.2 overs to secure a fourth successive win, having already sealed the series.
One big positive from the game was Dhawan being back among the runs ahead of the T20 series against South Africa beginning on September 15. The southpaw endured a dry run in the West Indies with scores of 36, 2, 3, 23, 1 in the limited overs leg of the tour.
India 'A' were on course for victory when skipper Shreyas Iyer (26) and his Mumbai team-mate Shivam Dube (31) were in the middle.
However, their dismissal in the space of two balls by the pacy Nortje (3/36), began the India 'A' slide as the host slipped to 178 for 9.
Dube, who carted three big sixes, was caught by substitute Khaya Zondo in the deep off Nortje's bowling. Two balls later, the captain fell to a catch in the deep.
Local star Sanju Samson, from whom a lot was expected, fell to a superb catch by the wicketkeeper Sinethemba Qeshile off rookie Lutho Sipamla for 1.
Nitish Rana and Washington Sundar fell while going for big shots and it was left to Rahul Chahar to try and pull off a win in the company of No.11 Ishan Porel.
He tried his best, hitting a six and a four, but couldn't take the team past the line as Beuran Hendricks didn't allow him to score off the final delivery.
Earlier, Dhawan and Prashant Chopra (26) began confidently with the former reaching his half-century in style, after the match was pushed into the reserve day.
After Dhawan's fall at 110 in the 15th over, Shreyas Iyer and Dube joined forces and kept the scoreboard ticking with a mix of cautious play and big shots.
India 'A' have taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match ODI series. The final unofficial ODI will be played on Friday.
South Africa 'A' 137 for 1 in 25 overs (Reeza Hendricks 60, Matthew Breetzke 25, Heinrich Klaasen 21 not out, Rahul Chahar 1/18) beat India 'A' 188 for 9 in 25 overs (S Dhawan 52, Shivam Dube 31, Shreyas Iyer 26, Prashant Chopra 26, A Nortje 3/36, M Jansen 3/35, L Sipamla 3/55) by 4 runs (by DLS method).