It was raining sixes and fours on a severely windy and cold evening as Asia Lions scripted a stunning six-wicket win over World Giants to return to winning ways in the Legends League Cricket at the Al Amerat Cricket Ground here.
Smarting from their defeat to Indian Maharajas the previous day, Asia Lions rode on a 88-run partnership from 54 balls by the Sri Lankan duo of Upul Tharanga (63) and Tillakaratne Dilshan (52) to chase down a stiff 206 with five balls to spare here on Friday.
Lions opener Dilshan smashed three sixes and two fours en route his 32-ball knock, while Tharanga top-scored for them with his 43-ball 63, which included seven boundaries and two maximums, as they took charge of the proceedings after Kamran Akmal (14) was dismissed in the fourth over.
Pakistans Mohammad Hafeez chipped in with his quickfire cameo of 27 from 13 balls when 56 runs were needed off 24 balls after Tharanga was brilliantly run out by Imran Tahir.
In the penultimate over, Asghar Afghan (14 from 7 balls) and Lions skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq (19 from 11 balls) took Ryan Sidebottom to the cleaners with two sixes and as many boundaries in an over that yielded 22 runs to virtually seal the issue.
Earlier, Kevin OBrien set the tone for World Giants with a splendid 95 from 46 balls (7×6, 7×4) to prop up the total to 205/7 after Lions opted to bowl.
The former Irish cricketer held their innings together after English star batter Kevin Pietersen (14) got out cheaply in the third over.
OBrien raced to 95 with back-to-back six and four to Muttiah Muralitharan (1/46) but the Sri Lankan spin wizard had the last laugh getting him out in the same over five runs short of a century.
Sri Lankan seamer Nuwan Kulasekara was brilliant in the death overs to return with a tidy 4-1-17-2, while Hafeez also claimed two wickets to cap an all-round show.
“As a team, we were looking for a win and we finally got that, its a wonderful feeling,” Hafeez, who retired recently after playing his last for Pakistan in the T20 World Cup last year, said.
“Above everything, I personally enjoyed the game to play with the top stars of World cricket. Sharing the dressing room with them was really special,” Hafeez said.
“Definitely the intensity level was not that much. But I was personally here to watch the legends, and was so happy to see them. Its a wonderful initiative, I really want to congratulate the organisers for bringing them under one roof. As a fan Im very happy.
“Like having World Cup winning Sri Lankan skipper Arjuna Ranatunga as a coach, was very special. As a child, I grew up watching him so to me its a great value adding into this league.
“Its a big entertainment for the fans. To see your idols like Shoaib Akhtar, Kevin Pietersen, Muralitharan again playing is something very special,” the 41-year-old, who will now head back home to play in the PSL, added.
Brief Scores: World Giants: 205/7 in 20 overs (Kevin OBrien 95; Nuwan Kulasekara 2/17, Mohammed Hafeez 2/32) lost to Asia Lions 209/4 in 19.2 overs (Upul Tharanga 63, Tillakaratne Dilshan 52; Morne Morkel 2/38) by six wickets.
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