Robin Uthappa 88*, Gautam Gambhir 61* lead India Maharajas to first win of the tournament
They helped chase 158 against Asia Lions in less than 13 overs, with Uthappa's innings taking only 39 deliveries
India Maharajas 158 for 0 (Uthappa 88*, Gambhir 61*) beat Asia Lions 157 for 5 (Tharanga 69, Dilshan 32, Raina 2-16) by ten wickets
India Maharajas openers Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir put on a spectacular display of boundary-hitting to help their side cruise to a ten-wicket win against Asia Lions on Tuesday. Chasing 158, Uthappa crashed 88 from only 39 balls, and Gambhir smashed 61 off 36 deliveries - his third successive fifty of the tournament - as they helped Maharajas to their first win in three games.
Uthappa and Gambhir played beautifully from the outset of the chase. Former Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir, until recently competing in the PSL, was hit for two boundaries by Uthappa in the second over, while Gambhir smashed Sohail Tanvir for three consecutive fours in the third. Gambhir, the leading run-scorer in the tournament, punched the first of those fours through cover. He then lofted one over mid-off, and later punished the third ball outside off with a drive through extra cover.
There was no respite for the power-packed Lions bowling line-up. Shoaib Akhtar tried to take pace off the ball, but Uthappa latched on with four through square leg. Later, Gambhir sliced the final delivery of Akhtar's only over towards backward point to collect another boundary.
The former Kolkata Knight Riders opening partners made the game so difficult for Lions that captain Misbah-ul-Haq had to call for Isuru Udana as the Impact Player; but Udana too was struck for 26 runs in his two overs. Eventually, Maharajas cruised to the win with 45 balls to spare.
Earlier, Lions' openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan had laid the foundation for their side with a solid opening partnership of 73 in 52 balls. On a hard pitch in Doha, the duo paced their innings cautiously while only occasionally finding the boundary. Dilshan struggled to execute his traditional Dilscoop too, surviving two close calls early.
Maharajas medium-pacer Stuart Binny was targeted by both batters. In the fifth over, Tharanga dispatched a short ball for four while Dilshan found the gap through square leg off the final ball of the over. Their partnership climbed to 56 after the powerplay.
Binny eventually dismissed Dilshan as he picked out Irfan Pathan at short third, where Pathan took a sharp low catch. While Tharanga struggled for timing, he kept the score moving along with a spirited 69, which included seven fours and two sixes.
Abdul Razzaq helped bring some late impetus to the innings with 27 from 17 balls that included two fours and sixes each, carrying Lions to 157, but that proved to be significantly short in the end.