The eighth match of Legends League Cricket (LLC) on Monday saw a blood-curdling end as Harbhajan Singh’s Manipal Tigers defeated Irfan Pathan’s Bhilwara Kings by just 3 runs to record their first League win. After a superlative opening partnership between Tatenda Taibu (54) and Jesse Ryder (47), the Tigers helped after 175/8 in 20 overs, the Kings, driven by brothers Irfan (23) and Yusuf Pathan (42), almost made for a thrilling contest. chase at the Barabati Stadium.
The Kings needed 9 runs from the last remaining to win but former Sri Lankan speedster Dilhara Fernando conceded just 5, besides taking two wickets.
Fernando finished with 4/31 from his four overs as the Kings finished on 172/9. Skipper Harbhajan Singh and Parvinder Awana each took two wickets, while Muralitharan took one wicket.
The Kings didn’t get the sizzling start that the Tigers had. While Taibu and Ryder had looted 63 without a loss in their Powerplay overs, the Kings only managed 43/1.
Pair of Tanmay Srivastava (26) and Yusuf had some big hits in the middle overs, but the first got out in the 15th over. That saw Irfan join brother Yusuf at the fold.
The Pathan brothers split a 41-run tie in quick time before Irfan was out on the penultimate ball of the 18th left. But Yusuf continued. But after being out of the last ball of the 19th for a 42 out of 21 balls, the Kings chase lost steam.
Previously, the decision to start the Tigers first backfired on Kings’ captain Irfan as the rival openers sprang into action with big hits from the start. A notebook six above Irfan’s head from Taibu showed that his bat skills remain as they were during his playing days.
Former Zimbabwe captain Taibu was more fluid, scoring 54 from 30 balls with five fours and four sixes. New Zealander Ryder was also at his most aggressive hitting 47 from 35 balls, with six boundaries and two sixes.
The opening pair shared a 109-run partnership before Irfan was saved by Yusuf. While bowling his part-time spin, Yusuf (2/25) eliminated both Ryder and Taibu in the 11th left of the innings.
The double attack pushed the Tigers slightly on the back foot and their run rate dropped. Corey Anderson (24) and Mohammad Kaif (32) tried their best to force the pace of the innings, but they didn’t quite succeed.
The Tigers’ hopes of some big death overs were hit hard when Caribbean speedster Tino Best (3/20) scalped three wickets in the 19th over.
In the end, however, it was proved that the Tigers had indeed scored enough to claim the win.
Dilhara Fernando was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ award for his match-winning 4/31.
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