MUSCAT: India Maharajas missed the bus to the final by five runs in a high-scoring final league match of the Legends League Cricket 2022 at the Al Amerat Stadium here on Thursday night.
In a highly entertaining match, India Maharajas needed to successfully chase a formidable 228 runs set by World Giants to qualify for the final on Saturday.
India Maharajas ended with only two points from their four matches, while World Giants topped with six points and Asia Lions came second with four points.
At the Oman Cricket Academy Grounds, India Maharajas needed eight runs in the last over bowled by Australian pace superstar Bret Lee.
Lee bowled with precision as he conceded only two runs in the over and took two wickets in the process.
After a first-ball wide, Irfan Pathan was out next ball. Amit Bhatia took one run next ball to put Avishkar Salvi on strike. Salvi could not take runs for two balls and the third ball he faced resulted in the run out of Rajat Bhatia. New comer Amit Bhandari could not do anything in the last ball of the innings.
Lone centurion of the tournament, Naman Ojha put up a sensational innings of 95 from 51 balls, which included eight boundaries and seven sixers.
Irfan Pathan hit 56 from 21 balls, while India Maharajas skipper Yusuf Pathan scored 45 off 22 balls as they ended up 223 for 7 in 20 overs.
For Giants, Morne Morkel 2-37 and Bret Lee 1-22 in 3 overs impressed with the ball. Ryan Sidebottom, though expensive, was among wickets (2-44) in his four overs.
GIBBS HITS FORM
Earlier, Maharajas won the toss and sent Giants to bat.
In-form Kevin Pietersen was bowled early in the innings by Munaf Patel for 11 as Maharajas got their first breakthrough in the second over.
However, opener Phil Mustard (57 from 33 balls) and former South African star Herschelle Gibbs (89 from 46 balls) rose to the occasion.
Gibbs belted a 98-run partnership with Mustard from 54 balls and World Giants pushed for a huge total.
The swash-buckling Proteas batsman set another 71-run partnership from 32 balls with Kevin O’Brien (34) as Maharajas bowlers were sent to all parts of the park.
“Last two matches, KP took us to a good total. This match, I took the responsibility to play a similar role. In the end, we are happy to be on the winning side. The India Maharajas played really well during their chase of our good total,” Gibbs told reporters after the match.
World Giants skipper Daren Sammy said he is optimistic to continue the same performance in the final.
“We have several players in good form for the final. We hope to continue the same performance in the final as well,” Sammy said.
Fielding maestro Jonty Rhodes (20) and Albie Morkel (16) also contributed valuable runs in the end to push the score past 200.
Munaf Patel with 2-36 in 4 overs and Rajat Bhatia 1-36 were the respectable figures in the Maharajas bowling.
Brief scores: World Giants 228-5 in 20 overs (Herschelle Gibbs 89, Phil Mustard 57, Kevin O’Brien 34; Munaf Patel 2-36) beat India Maharajas 223-7 in 20 overs (Naman Ojha 95, Irfan Pathan 56, Yusuf Pathan 45; Morne Morkel 2-37, Ryan Sidebottom 2-44, Bret Lee 1-22)