Legends League Cricket: Ojha, Irfan knocks in vain as Giants deny Maharajas final berth

The Maharajas end their campaign with three defeats to their tally while the Giants have won all but one of their four league encounters.

Irfan Pathan's stellar cameo of 56 was not enough for the Maharajas to close out a 229 chase on Thursday.   -  LLC

The India Maharajas failed to reach the final of the inaugural Legends League Cricket tournament as it suffered an agonising five-run defeat in the must-win encounter against World Giants on Thursday.

Led by a well-rounded performance and an over of Brett Lee magic at the end, the World Giants sealed its spot in the final alongside Asia Lions, which pipped the Maharajas with two wins to its tally.

Sent into bat by the Maharajas, the Giants served out a dominant batting performance against a hapless Indian bowling unit. Opener Herschelle Gibbs cracked a flawless 46-ball 89 with seven sixes and as many fours while solid knocks from Phil Mustard (57, 5*4, 4*6) and Kevin O'Brien (34, 5*6) helped the Giants record the highest total of the tournament - 228/5 in 20 overs.

HIGHLIGHTS

In its reply, the Maharajas found themselves reeling in the PowerPlay with the early dismissals of Wasim Jaffer (4) and S Badrinath (2).  However, Naman Ojha and Yusuf Pathan soon paired to resurrect the chase, and the duo lifted the scoring rate rapidly with a flurry of big hits in a 103-run partnership.

Ojha, who smashed a scintillating 140 against the Giants in their last meeting, hit the straps running once again as he brought up his fifty in 30 deliveries. Yusuf joined in on the act with a quick-fire cameo off 45 from 22 deliveries before being dismissed by Albie Morkel in the 13th over. India's chances slipped further below as it lost Stuart Binny (3) before Naman Ojha was dismissed by an excellent catch by Morne Morkel at deep square leg on 95 within the 15th over.

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However, comeback man Irfan Pathan rejuvenated the chase with a sensational 18-ball half-century laced with six maximums and two fours. Irfan took the game down to the final over where his side required eight runs to earn its spot in the final.

But to India's dismay, Irfan (56) conceded his wicket off the second ball to Brett Lee who followed up with four pin-point wide yorkers to lower-order batters Aavishkar Salvi and Amit Bhandari who failed to get bat on ball as India eventually fell short of the target by five runs.

The Maharajas end their campaign with three defeats to their tally while the Giants have won all but one of their four league encounters.

The Daren Sammy-led Giants will now face the Asia Lions in Saturday's final in Muscat with both sides notching up a win apiece in their last two encounters.

Brief Scores: IMR 223/7 in 20 overs (Ojha 95, Irfan 56; Morkel 2/37) lost to WGS 228/5 in 20 overs (Gibbs 89, Mustard 57; Patel 2/36) by 5 runs.

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