Mohammad Kaif slammed an unbeaten 119 as Rajasthan President's XI pulled off a narrow five-run win in the practice match against England in Jaipur to seize back some of the initiative for the hosts ahead of the one-dayers.
Put in to bat, the local team made a competitive 260 for 6 in their stipulated 50 overs before bowling out the visitors for 255 in 49.5 overs for a thrilling finish at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Kaif starred in President's XI innings, hitting 10 fours in his 136-ball knock before spinners -- Piyush Chawala and Ramesh Powar -- entrapped Vikram Solanki's men in a spin web.
Ian Bell made a fine 71 and wicketkeeper Matt Prior stroked 51 but the tendency of the English side, playing without their key players, to lose wickets at regular intervals meant they were left with a stiff run chase at the death.
Needing 25 runs in the final over, Kabir Ali hit a six and a four off Piyush Chawla but at the other end Gareth Batty holed out to R P Singh and James Anderson was run out with just one ball to spare.
The slow bowlers did the trick for India while Suresh Raina's all-round contribution also played a crucial role in shaping RCA XI's win.
Raina, who made a quickfire 49 off 46 balls, excelled with the ball as well, dismissing top-scorer Bell and also effecting two run outs -- that of the aggressive Kevin Pietersen (28) and Paul Collingwood (34).
Credit should also go to skipper Ajay Jadeja for marshalling his bowling resources well in the match which is the only practice game ahead of the start of the seven-match one-day series beginning in Delhi on March 28.
Chasing 261 for win, England lost two early wickets including that of their captain Solanki for a duck to paceman VRV Singh in the third over.
Left arm paceman R P Singh got rid of Owais Shah, who had impressed in the third and final Test against India, which England won by 212 runs to draw the series 1-1, for two.
Matt Prior and Pietersen steadied the innings with the latter increasing the tempo by hitting three consecutive fours off R P Singh to fetch 13 runs from his over.
Prior also took a cue and hit four fours to extract 17 runs from another over of the UP bowler who ended up conceding 42 runs in his seven overs.
The duo put on 45 runs before Prior was bowled by Powar.
Reduced to 163 for five in the 34th over, Bell resurrected the innings with a 56-run partnership with Ian Blackwell and put his side on the victory course but a crucial run out -- that of Blackwell by Jadeja -- marked the turnaround for the hosts.
RCA President's XI
G Gambhir c Prior b Anderson 5
J Shah c Batty b Mahmood 10
S Raina c Shah b Collingwood 49
M Kaif not out 119
Y Venugopal Rao b Collingwood 14
A Jadeja c Pietersen b Blackwell 18
P Patel c Bell b Ali 25
R Powar not out 5
Extras (lb 8, w 5, nb 2) 15
Total (for 6 wickets in 50 overs) 260
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-28, 3-100, 4-120, 5-166, 6-227.
Bowling: Anderson 9-0-57-1, Mahmood 3-0-13-1, Ali 7-1-45-1, Plunkett 6-1-33-0, Collingwood 7-0-28-2, Blackwell 10-0-33-1, Batty 6-0-30-0, Bell 2-0-13-0.
V Solanki c Raina b VR Singh 0
M PrioR c RP Singh b Powar 55
O Shah c Patel b RP Singh 2
K Pietersen run out (Raina) 28
I Bell c Kaif b Raina 71
P Collingwood run out (Raina) 34
I Blackwell run out (Jadeja/Patel) 23
K Ali not out 25
L Plunkett c RP Singh b Rao 1
G Batty c RP Singh b Chawla 2
J Anderson run out (Kaif/Rao) 4
Extras (lb 1, w 5, nb 4) 10
Total (all out in 49.5 overs) 255
Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-19, 3-88, 4-97, 5-163, 6-215, 7-229, 8-230, 9-244.
Bowling: VR Singh 5-0-33-1, RP Singh 7-0-48-1, Gill 6-0-30-0, Powar 10-0-35-1, Piyush Chawla 10-2-49-1, Venugopal Rao 5.5-0-31-1, Raina 6-0-28-1.