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Eliminator (D/N), Doha, March 18, 2023, Legends League Cricket Masters
(16.4/20 ov, T:192) 106

Lions won by 85 runs

Player Of The Match
50 (31)

Upul Tharanga, bowlers take Asia Lions to final

India Maharajas crash out after just one win in five games

File photo: Upul Tharanga plays a shot  •  AFP

File photo: Upul Tharanga plays a shot  •  AFP

Asia Lions 191 for 5 (Tharanga 50, Ojha 2-26) beat India Maharajas 106 (Gambhir 32, Hafeez 2-21) by 85 runs
A rapid half-century from Upul Tharanga (50 off 31) followed by a tight bowling display from Mohammad Hafeez (2 for 21) guided Asia Lions to the final of the Legends League Cricket Masters as they completed a massive 85-run victory over India Maharajas in the eliminator on Saturday.
It was a sloppy start to the chase from Asia Lions as they dropped two chances off both India Maharajas openers Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. Gambhir, the highest run-scorer in the tournament, was dropped for four runs in the first over by Abdul Razzaq before Uthappa was dropped for 5 in the fourth over off Abdur Razzak as Shahid Afridi dropped a simple chance at mid-off. Uthappa made the most of his chance as he slammed Razzak for two consecutive boundaries through mid-on in the same over.
A steady 47-run opening stand was broken by Hafeez in the next over. Gambhir drove a tossed-up delivery outside off straight to Misbah-ul-Haq, who took a sharp catch at extra cover. It was all downhill from there for the Maharajas as wickets continued to fall. At one point, the asking rate even touched 11 per over.
Suresh Raina struggled through his innings of 18 runs off 29 deliveries. Sohail Tanvir ended his misery with a full-length delivery that beat his defence to hit the stumps. Stuart Binny was the next victim for Tanvir as he tried to work a full delivery towards third man but only managed a thick edge onto the stumps.
Apart from the top four, no other batter managed to get into double digits for India Maharajas. Tanvir, Razzak and Hafeez picked up two wickets apiece.
Earlier, Asia Lions started slowly after opting to bat with India Maharajas' new-ball bowlers Irfan Pathan and Ashok Dinda relying on their disciplined lines. That forced Tharanga to take a few early risks, which paid off when he struck Pathan for a six and a four in the third over.
Tharanga continued to revive the scoring rate for Asia Lions in the next over. He greeted Yusuf Pathan's offbreaks with consecutive boundaries towards extra cover before using his feet and driving towards deep cover for the third boundary of the over.
His opening partner Tillakratne Dilshan, though, struggled to find his rhythm. He failed to time his paddle sweeps and execute his traditional Dilscoop but was able to stay above a run-a-ball with a 26-ball 27.
Tharanga reached his half-century in 30 balls before he was dismissed by Pragyan Ojha off the next delivery, majorly due to a stunning one-handed catch by Mohammad Kaif at extra cover.
New batters Hafeez and Asghar Afghan stitched a 42-run stand for the third wicket. That was immediately followed by a rapid 44-run partnership between Afghan and Thisara Perera as the Asia Lions put up the highest score of the tournament, which proved to be well over-par. Asia Lions will face reigning champions World Giants in the final on Monday.

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