MUSCAT: Imran Tahir’s sensational batting instilled a lifeline to the World Giants in the Legends League cricket at the Amerat Stadium on Saturday night.
The former South African spinner’s 19-ball 52 helped World Giants to cross the line in the tense game against India Maharajas after setting a mammoth total of 210 to win.
“Nobody was expecting me to do this. I am very happy to play a special innings for the team. I backed myself and in the end I was able to finish the game for the Giants," an elated Tahir told reporters after the match.
Tahir who started off with boundaries belted five sixers and three boundaries in his match-winning innings.
World Giants had a shaky start to the chase when they lost last-match hero Kevin O'Brien (9) and Corey Anderson (0) very early.
Jonathan Trott had a retire hurt to make things more worse
However, Giants were kept in the game at the other end by Kevin Pietersen, who smashed a 27-ball 53. KP dealt mainly with sixers, hitting six over the ropes and two to the fence.
Pietersen got out trying to hit Stuart Binny for a six as the skied up shot was safely caught by Maharajas captain Mohammed Kaif.
Fall of Pietersen put brakes on Giants scoring as they lost Albie Morkel (4) and Brad Haddin (21), who tried to raise the run-rate.
Mornie Morkel (21) put up a fight along with skipper Darren Sammy (28) but Binny and Munaf Patel sent them back to turn the momentum back to India Maharajas.
But Tahir had a different idea and Ryan Sidebottom played a wise innings (8) to shore the Giants to victory.
Maharajas captain Kaif said the injury to RP Singh early on had put their bowling on back-foot.
"We had to fill in the three overs by part-timers which eventually proved costly. Tahir had played a great knock which we never anticipated."
RP Singh had to retire after he suffered a calf muscle injury, bowling one over giving away two runs.
Giants skipper Sammy said it was a special innings from Tahir.
OJHA HITS CENTURY
Batting first, Maharajas were propelled by a tournament-best innings of 140 runs by the man-of-the-match Naman Ojha.
It was also the first century of the tournament.
Ojha almost single-handedly carried the Indian batting ably supported by captain Mohammad Kaif with a solid 53.
The wicketkeeper batsman opened the innings and hit 15 fours and nine sixers in his whirlwind 69-ball knock.
“This is one of my best knocks in twenty20. I backed myself and I started playing my shots which I was not doing in the last match.”
“I would like to play in all the leagues around the world. So there are chances for the players after retirement,” the 38-year-old said.
“I love to open innings. I had not got enough chances earlier before my retirement. But I don’t have any regrets. I had performed well whenever I got a chance,” Ojha, who happened to be in the same period as Mahendra Singh Dhoni played for India, added.
India Maharajas 209-3 in 20 overs (Naman Ojha 140 (69 balls, 15x4, 9x6), Mohammed Kaif 53; Ryan Sidebottom 2-20, Mornie Morkel 1-24) lost to World Giants 210-7 in 19.3 overs (Kevin Pietersen 53, Imran Tahir 52, Daren Sammy 28; Stuart Binny 2-22, Munaf Patel 2-51)