In a humdinger run-fest, the World Giants overrode the odds to beat India Maharajas by three wickets for its first win in the Legends League Cricket tournament, courtesy a blistering half-century by Imran Tahir in Muscat on Saturday.
The Giants romped home in the final over of a mammoth 210 chase after finding itself tottering at 130 for six in the 14th over before Tahir’s arrival at number 8. The Maharajas then slipped from the brink of a comfortable win as Tahir slammed a 19-ball 52* with five sixes, two of which came in the final over with the Giants requiring 12 runs.
Tahir’s late surge put the team level with the Maharajas and the Asian Lions on the points table, with all three sides on two points after the first round of matches.
Earlier in the evening, Giants skipper Daren Sammy won the toss and sent India in to bat. The Giants got off to a near-perfect start with England left-armer Ryan Sidebottom dismissing opener Wasim Jaffer and S Badrinath for ducks in successive deliveries in the second over.
However, a brilliant recovery was staged by wicketkeeper-opener Naman Ojha and skipper Mohammed Kaif, with the former hammering a whirlwind hundred. While Kaif (53*) held fort at one end, Ojha capitalized on a shaky bowling effort by the Giants attack. Ojha cruised to a 57-ball ton before holing out in the final over of the innings after a power-packed 140 from just 69 deliveries comprising 15 fours and nine sixes.
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In its chase, the World Giants lost wickets at regular intervals while opener Kevin Pietersen slammed a quick-fire fifty to lead the side towards 100. While Pietersen fell on 53, skipper Sammy (28) and Morne Morkel (21) played crucial cameos to keep the side in contention before Tahir’s blitzkrieg.
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India skipper Kaif was short of bowling options for the final over, with RP Singh and Hemang Badani going off the field after suffering niggles. Kaif handed the ball to Venugopal Rao who conceded two sixes to Tahir, who posted his first-ever T20 half-century.
The Giants will miss the services of the 42-year-old in the upcoming matches as he leaves to play for the Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League.
The India Maharajas will begin its second round of fixtures when it meets the Asia Lions on Monday.
Letter Scores: WGS 210/7 in 19.3 overs (Pietersen 53, Tahir 52*; Binny 2/22) beat IMR 209/3 in 20 overs (Ojha 140, Kaif 53*; Sidebottom 2/20) by three wickets